Driving at any time of the year can be a dangerous endeavor. Wintertime driving, however, has proven to come with especially high risks for motorists who experience inclement weather, including snow and ice storms. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) estimates that more than 21 percent of all car crashes occur in adverse weather, such as rain, snow, fog, or severe crosswinds or on slick, icy, snowy, or wet pavement.
These statistics are alarming for those who regularly drive in states with harsh winters, as adverse weather-related collisions tend to have particularly devastating repercussions for motorists and passengers whose injuries are often severe. Unfortunately, many at-fault drivers use the existence of inclement weather as an excuse for their poor driving in an effort to avoid liability for a collision. The courts, however, expect motorists to drive with care at all times, especially during poor weather, meaning that those who are involved in wintertime collisions are often still entitled to damages compensating them for accident-related losses, including medical bills and lost wages.
How Common are Wintertime Accidents?
Federal agencies estimate that there are approximately 5,891,000 car crashes every year. Of these accidents, around 21 percent occur in adverse weather conditions, of which approximately:
- 18 percent took place during snow or sleet storms;
- 16 percent occurred on snowy or slushy roads; and
- 13 percent took place on icy pavement.
Unfortunately, accidents that occur during the winter months tend to have particularly severe repercussions, with more than 116,800 motorists sustaining injuries in accidents on snowy, icy, or slushy roads every year.
The Dangers of Wintertime Driving
Driving during the winter months is dangerous for a number of reasons, including:
- Wet road surfaces caused by falling temperatures and the presence of rain, sleet, slush, or snow on the roadways;
- The presence of ice on the roads, which can keep tires from maintaining a solid grip on the asphalt;
- Strong winds, which can make it difficult for motorists to steer, control their vehicles, and avoid road hazards;
- A lack of visibility due to foggy or icy windows and blowing snow; and
- Road congestion caused by accidents and a loss of vehicle control.
Icy, snowy, and slushy roads have proven to be especially dangerous for motorists, who are much more likely to lose control of their vehicles in these conditions. To avoid these types of collisions, motorists should use extra care when driving, refrain from speeding, and perform proper maintenance on their vehicles.
Tips for Wintertime Driving
There are a number of precautionary steps that drivers can take in the winter months to avoid an accident, including:
- Reducing their speed and allowing for more following distance between themselves and other vehicles;
- Performing vehicle maintenance, such as checking tire pressure, topping off fluids, and inspecting vehicle batteries;
- Investing in winter tires, which have larger gaps in their tread patterns and so have improved traction on snow and ice;
- Keeping a clear view of the road by replacing headlights, refilling windshield wiper fluid, defogging windshields, scraping windows, and replacing wiper blades;
- Refraining from stopping unless absolutely necessary, as this can help prevent skids and spinouts;
- Paying extra attention when driving over bridges, tunnels, and overpasses, which often ice over more quickly;
- Remaining alert for animals who may be more likely to wander onto nearby roads during the winter; and
- Refraining from activating the cruise control when driving on a slippery surface.
Unfortunately, even those who employ the greatest care when driving in the winter could end up being involved in an accident due to the negligence or recklessness of another driver. It is possible for injured parties to file a lawsuit against another driver for property damage, bodily injury, or other losses that exceed their coverage. Notably, plaintiffs who sustain serious injuries can also seek compensation for their pain and suffering, which is not available to those who file claims only with their own insurers.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
Although proving negligence can be more complicated when adverse weather conditions are involved, doing so is still possible, so if you or a loved one were recently injured in an accident, please call (757) 965-7200 to speak with one of the experienced car accident attorneys at Barney Injury Law today.