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Auto Accidents / Jun 10,2024

Is Driving Through the Mountains Really More Dangerous? Stats, Safety Tips & More

For many Denver residents, hitting the mountains is a weekend ritual. The fresh air, breathtaking scenery, and endless outdoor activities beckon us to escape the city and embrace nature's beauty. But while cruising along a scenic mountain highway can be a truly exhilarating experience, it's important to remember that these roads also present unique challenges and potential dangers.

Understanding the statistics behind mountain driving accidents, the specific risk factors you may encounter, and valuable safety tips can help you navigate mountain roads with confidence. Learn more about these concerns as well as what to do in the unfortunate event you're involved in a mountain car accident with Flesch & Beck.

Is the Risk Really Higher?

The short answer is yes. Studies consistently show that mountain roads have a higher rate of accidents compared to flat, rural highways. There are several contributing factors that we will discuss shortly, but here are some key statistics to keep in mind. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that a significantly higher percentage of injury crashes occur on mountain roads compared to other rural roadways. 

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) echoes this concern, highlighting that mountainous regions see a disproportionate share of serious and fatal crashes.

Additional Risk Factors on Denver Mountain Roads

The allure of mountain drives is undeniable, but these scenic journeys also come with inherent challenges. The increased accident rate on mountain roads can be attributed to several factors that can significantly impact driver control and decision-making. Unlike flat, rural highways, mountain roads present a unique set of obstacles that require extra caution and a keen awareness of potential dangers.

The increased accident rate on mountain roads can be attributed to several factors.

Winding Roads

Mountain highways are notorious for their sharp curves and switchbacks that seem to appear out of nowhere. These demanding stretches require a significant reduction in speed compared to flat roads, along with constant focus and a clear understanding of proper turning techniques to navigate them safely. 

Maintaining a safe following distance and avoiding wide turns that could cause you to cross the center line are also critical for preventing accidents on these winding roads.

Limited Visibility

Fog, snow, and dust storms can create a scene of near white-out conditions on mountain roads, drastically reducing visibility and turning a familiar route into a treacherous unknown. Be prepared to slow down significantly in these situations, and use low-beam headlights even during the day to improve your own visibility to oncoming traffic.

Higher Wind Velocity

Strong, unpredictable wind gusts are another hazard to contend with on mountain roads. These gusts can significantly affect vehicle stability, particularly for high-profile vehicles like SUVs and trucks, causing them to sway or veer off course unexpectedly. Maintaining a firm grip on the wheel and avoiding sudden corrections is crucial to staying in control during windy conditions.

Narrow Shoulders

Many mountain roads have limited shoulder space, leaving drivers with a narrow margin for error. This can be particularly stressful in situations requiring a quick stop or when navigating tight corners with oncoming traffic. The lack of a wide shoulder also makes pulling over in an emergency more difficult, potentially delaying help or creating a hazard for passing vehicles.

Uneven Terrain

Mountain roads can be bumpy and have significant elevation changes. Be mindful of these variations and adjust your speed accordingly.

Safety Tips For Driving on the Mountain

By acknowledging the potential dangers and practicing safe driving habits, you can significantly reduce your risk of an accident on mountain roads. Here are some key tips to remember:

  • Plan Your Trip: Check weather conditions before heading out and be prepared for rapid changes. Research the specific route you'll be taking and familiarize yourself with potential challenges.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Ensure your car is in top condition before your mountain adventure. Check tire pressure, brakes, and fluid levels.
  • Pack Essentials: Being prepared is key. Pack an emergency kit, including warm clothes, water, non-perishable food, a first-aid kit, and a flashlight. Consider bringing tire chains if there's a chance of snow.
  • Leave Extra Space: Maintain a safe following distance from the car in front of you. This allows more reaction time for sudden stops or unexpected obstacles.
  • Use Low Gears: Especially when descending steep inclines, utilize engine braking by shifting into lower gears. This helps maintain control and reduces strain on your brakes.
  • Don't Hog the Road: Be courteous to other drivers, especially slower vehicles or those navigating uphill. Pull over to designated areas to allow faster traffic to pass safely.
  • Headlights On: Even during the day, turn on your headlights to improve visibility for yourself and oncoming traffic.
  • Avoid Distractions: Put your phone away and focus on the road. Mountain driving demands your full attention.
  • Know Your Limits: If you're feeling fatigued or uncomfortable, pull over and take a break. Don't push yourself or your vehicle beyond its capabilities.

What To Do If You Are in a Wreck on the Mountain

Getting into an accident, especially in a remote mountain location, can be a frightening experience. Staying calm and ensuring everyone's safety is paramount after a mountain car accident. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If medical attention is needed, call 911 immediately. 

Once the immediate danger has passed, secure the scene by turning on hazard lights and using flares if available. If possible, move your car to a safe location off the road to avoid further hazards. Documenting the scene with photos of the damage, surrounding area, and injuries (if safe to do so) will be crucial later. Exchange information with other drivers involved, but avoid admitting fault or discussing the accident in detail.

Most importantly, after the danger has passed, it is crucial that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible if you have been injured or experienced property damage of any kind. They can help you negotiate a fair settlement with your insurance company, defend your rights if the other party seeks additional compensation, or even represent you in court if necessary. 

Flesh & Beck Law Firm Can Help

At Flesh & Beck Law Firm, we understand the complexities of mountain car accident cases. Our team of skilled attorneys has extensive experience handling these types of claims and is dedicated to getting you the best possible outcome. We will work tirelessly to investigate your accident, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.

If you've been involved in a mountain car accident and have questions about your legal rights, don't hesitate to contact Flesh & Beck Law Firm today for a free consultation. Call us at 303-806-8886 or visit us online to learn more.

By driving safely and being prepared, you can minimize your risk of an accident on mountain roads. However, if the unexpected happens, Flesh & Beck Law Firm is here to help you get back on track.

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