According to the Federal Highway Administration, nearly a quarter of all yearly car accidents occur because of bad weather and hazardous driving conditions. Of this annual total of 1.5 million, many car crashes occur in the winter. With proper safety precautions, a fair number of these collisions could have been prevented. All drivers using the roads in inclement weather are responsible for taking adequate safety measures. But while you may do your part to practice safe winter driving behavior, you can’t always control the actions of others. An inattentive or negligent driver who causes you injury or property damage cannot simply escape liability by blaming the accident on bad weather.
Prevention and Defensive Driving
- To minimize the risk of accidents in wintry weather, it is important that you take steps to prepare both your vehicle and yourself.
- Be alert to changing weather and traffic conditions before planning your trip.
- Do not drive in bad weather if you are feeling fatigued.
- Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained by checking tire tread and pressure, battery, windshield wipers and fluid levels.
- Ensure better visibility by removing ice and snow from windshield and windows.
- Stay aware of winter hazards like slick bridges and overpasses, stalled vehicles and snowdrifts that limit visibility.
- Slow down. Decreasing your speed by 5 m.p.h. or more can help reduce your risk of being in a collision.
- Maintain extra distance between vehicles in case of sudden stops.
- Pack a winter emergency kit. Include such items as flashlight, batteries, jumper cables, material that can provide traction such as cat litter, blankets, drinking water, shovel and ice scraper.
Others May Not Be as Careful as You Are
Although you may take steps to limit your potential for an accident, others may be less inclined to do so. They may be driving poorly maintained vehicles with icy windshields and inadequate visibility. They may be distracted by texting, other passengers, or driving while fatigued or impaired by drugs or alcohol. They may be speeding on icy roads, or failing to maintain a safe driving distance between vehicles. They may have allowed large amounts of snow to build up on their vehicles. When this snowy or icy accumulation falls off onto the road, it can create dangers for all vehicles in the vicinity. You should be especially conscious of this hazard when following a large truck or trailer.
Government agencies also have a duty to prevent bad weather driving accidents. They must ensure that roads are fit for winter driving by avoiding icy build-ups and removing snow in a timely manner. In addition, they must repair potholes and other damage to the road caused by wintry weather. If a government entity fails to provide safe road conditions and an accident occurs, that entity might be found negligent and responsible for any resulting injury or property damage.
Consult an Experienced Attorney
If you or a loved one are involved in a winter driving accident, speak with a knowledgeable lawyer. The New York car accident attorneys at The Orlow Firm are experts in automobile accident liability. They can help to make sure that you are properly compensated for medical expenses, pain and suffering, long-term care and lost wages. The Orlow Firm offers a free consultation and operates three offices across New York City for your convenience. They can go to you if you cannot come to them.
To contact The Orlow Firm, call (646) 647-3398.