Monday, November 17, 2014

Learning curve

The blast of winter weather last week caught motorists in Lincoln off guard. Balmy temperatures in the 60s during the first week of November were followed by single digits last week, with a couple dustings of snow. It seems that every year there is a certain learning curve, as motorists try to adapt to winter driving conditions.

Tuesday morning's commute was light, due to the fact that government offices and financial institutions were closed for Veteran's Day, but Lincoln drivers managed to get involved in 84 traffic crashes nonetheless. It was not even measurable precipitation, but just enough to glaze the streets. On Saturday, a whopping 1.5 inches of snowfall resulted in 81 crashes: almost four times the daily average.

I noted an interesting pattern to the collisions when I did an hour-of-the-day analysis using CrimeView Dashboard. The first graph shows the distribution by time of day for crashes on Tuesday, November 11. The second graph is for Saturday, November 15.

As you can see, Tuesday's crashes spiked in a two-hour window during the morning drive-time, after which street conditions quickly improved. Saturday's crashes were spread more throughout the day. Notice the dip on Saturday at 1400 hours, when most Nebraskans were finding a TV in order to watch a football game that turned out to be something of a let down.

Time to refresh the basics: leave earlier, take your time, go easy on the gas when accelerating, keep a healthy following distance, anticipate your stops, and make sure you can see the spot where the tires of the vehicle ahead touch the pavement when you come to a stop in traffic. If you've been thinking the tread is getting a little worn, it would be a good time now to replace those tires and improve your grip.


Anonymous said...

What is the law in Nebraska on studded tires? I am considering four of them on my two wheel drive pickup and a few hundred pounds of sand bags.
Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

It was amazing the number of people willing to risk an accident because they were too lazy to clean the snow from their cars. Would an officer stop a car that one can barely see out of?

Tom Casady said...

Gun Nut,

Studded tires are legal from November 1 to April 1. Haven't seen any of those in a long, long time.


Yes, an officer would, and often does. Lincoln Municipal Code10.22.080 (e).

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I hate ice!

Anonymous said...

Could you come up with charts or a graph that would show the City's learning curve on being prepared for winter weather by mid-November? The response to the first winter storm seemed sadly lacking!

Anonymous said...

Ready for the ice and snow or not, the City was not going to put a crew on stand-by on a holiday. Way too expensive. Same reason they do the fireworks on the 3rd of July instead of the 4th.