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Is snowy weather really the deadly menace we fear it to be?

RICHMOND, Va. -- It's easy to make fun of the perennial bread and milk panic every time there's snow or ice in the forecast.

But it's understandable, this fear of the unusual, of slipping and sliding and losing our grip on this earth.

But just how dangerous is it, really?

Of the roughly 5 1/2 million vehicle crashes in the United States each year, less than a quarter are weather-related, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA).

Of those, the vast majority are due to rain or wet roads.

Only about 7 percent of all the crashes involve snow, sleet or ice, according to the FHA.

Of the 35,000 or so highway fatalities each year, about 4% are due to snow ice or sleet.

snowy-weather

It's likely that low number is due to the fact that many people heed warnings to stay off the roads when snow or ice falls.

Perhaps you've noticed how we in the media carefully report fatalities that occur during winter weather.

But what about the rest of the year?

Every day in the US, about 90 people die in crashes.

Yes, we should be more careful in snowy and icy conditions. But we should also be aware of how dangerous every day driving is, that most crashes and fatalities occur when the weather is clear.

Statistically, we are in greater danger when it isn't snowing, when we're not being careful.

And perhaps we should welcome the change is that a good snow can bring. The silence, the beauty, the feelings of days off and sledding it can evoke.

We shouldn't just feel fear and panic when the forecast is snow.

Be careful out there and enjoy!