One of the things we can count on in St. Louis is that we cannot count on our winter weather. It could be sunny and warm today and cold and snowy tomorrow and then back again the following day.

Winter weather can make driving treacherous, which is why it is important for us to be able to count on each other to drive cautiously and safely when snow, sleet, freezing rain and other wintry conditions occur. In that way, we can all reduce the risks of being injured in an automobile or tractor-trailer crash that should have been avoided despite the weather.

The recent 47-vehicle pile-up on Interstate 70 near Oak Grove, Missouri, involved poor visibility, snow-covered roads and drivers failing to be cautious in less-than-ideal driving conditions. The result was that a Platte City woman lost her life.

A spokesperson for the Missouri State Highway Patrol said a tractor-trailer jackknifed in the poor conditions, which led to the pile-up involving dozens more vehicles. He said in many cases, those secondary crashes are worse than the initial wrecks.

He said that similar tragedies can be avoided if people slow down in bad weather and increase the gap between vehicles so that drivers have enough time and space in which to react safely to sudden braking or collisions.

In ideal weather, he said that for every 10 miles per hour of speed you’re driving, you should maintain at least a one-car gap between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. In other words, if you are driving at 60 mph, you should keep a six-car-length gap between your vehicle and the vehicle you’re following.

In snowy weather, he said, you should stretch that gap even more to give you more time to brake and react to conditions ahead.

Those injured in car accidents caused by a careless driver should speak to a lawyer devoted to obtaining maximum compensation in personal injury litigation.