Your annual reminder: winter roads are, in fact, dangerous

The rain and snow has started in earnest in the Northwest, and snowy and icy conditions are expected in mountain passes in eastern Oregon, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The combination of the wet weather and darkness during commutes means that every year around this time, the number of traffic crashes jumps – and stays high through the holiday season.

Another factor is the start of the hunting season: most collisions with deer in Oregon and Washington happen from October to December.

The most likely accident causes in winter weather are driving too fast for conditions, and following too closely.

Slow down, and leave a little extra space – small changes can significantly decrease the chance of a crash.

Parts of I-5 and the I-84 corridor are particularly dangerous during inclement weather because of the volume of semi-truck traffic.

Don’t follow trucks too closely, don’t pass on the right side (there are far more blind spots for the driver of a tractor-trailer on the passenger side), and watch for lane drift in high-wind areas.

Finally, focus on your primary task: driving.

Study after study has shown that a large percentage of drivers are dangerously distracted behind the wheel.  If what you need to do is that important, stop the car.

The combination of a distracted driver and winter roads could be deadly.