Examining the Risks of Car Accidents in Winter

As ice and snow begins to cover the roads this season, what additional risks do winter weather conditions pose to motorists? The general practice attorneys at Jeff Scholnick Law investigate.

Dangerous road conditions are never easy to navigate. Winter weather challenges motorists by creating slick roads and increasing the frequency of obstacles. Although this weather poses additional dangers such as increased likelihood of hypothermia and frostbite, car accidents remain the most lethal of the winter risks.

According to a study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, over two thirds of winter’s accidental deaths are car-related. In addition, the vast majority of the US population reside in states with regular occurrences of winter weather conditions, meaning that most Americans will navigate snowy and icy roads at least several times per year.

There are several reasons for the risk of being involved in a car accident to increase during poor weather. Many of them can be simplified to the following principle: when motorists are forced by strong influences (like snow) to make a major change in their driving practices, they are less familiar with the new norms, and therefore less skilled at safely navigating the roads.

Heavy sleet and snow can reduce average speeds by up to 40 percent, and visibility can be drastically reduced in heavy weather conditions. Ice and frozen snow cause roads to lose their traction, leading to tires to slip. Snow plows and other large winter maintenance vehicles can cause traffic in places that are typically clear of delays. These factors present a fundamental change in how motorists navigate to their destination, increasing their risk of crashing.

The best way to ensure that you stay as safe as possible while driving in winter weather is to prepare yourself by developing your knowledge of the safest winter weather practices.

  • Check the weather. Before you leave for your destination, get into the habit of always checking the forecast first. Doing this will prepare you for the conditions during your commute and at your destination.
  • Stock up on emergency supplies. Fill a bag with blankets, a change of clothing, non-perishable snack bars, a first aid kit, a flashlight, gloves and hats, and any other supplies you feel you might want, should you be stuck in your car for longer than a few hours.
  • Acquire windshield cleaning tools. Scrapers and snow brushes are inexpensive, and can be purchased at most gas stations and hardware stores. Having them will ensure that you can quickly clear your windshield of icy debris.
  • Refuel during every trip. The fuller your gas tank, the less panic you will endure if you get caught in heavy traffic for an extended period. The same principle applies to your phone – acquire a car charger for your phone to guarantee communication as long as you are able to keep your engine running.

Taking the necessary precautions can ensure that you contribute to the safety of the roads by setting a positive example. If you become the victim of a car accident caused by winter weather, you will need skilled counsel to help you receive the proper compensation. Enlisting the assistance of an experienced attorney who specializes in car accident law is an excellent way to increase your chances of receiving those rewards.

For more information on how best to maintain your safety and security during periods of winter weather, contact Jeff Scholnick Law today.

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