FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-11-20
Winter is upon us, and in Wisconsin that means adjusting to a whole new way of driving. Winter in Wisconsin can sometimes seem like an unending onslaught of cold and snow. With that come slick roads, limited visibility and other dangerous conditions that could contribute to traffic accidents.
It is important to understand, however, that even though car accidents might be more likely during the winter months, drivers who cause accidents aren’t absolved of liability. Every driver in Wisconsin has a legal duty to operate their vehicle in a way that is reasonably safe given weather and road conditions. Those who fail to uphold this duty can be held liable if an accident occurs, even if winter weather was a contributing cause.
Wisconsin drivers need to take extra steps to keep themselves and their fellow motorists safe this winter. When you head out on the road, keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Watch your speed: The posted speed limits are recommendations for dry conditions only. In snowy or slippery conditions, you will likely need to drive more slowly. Slowing down will help you maintain control of your vehicle and will make it easier to come to a safe stop. In Wisconsin, drivers can be fined more than $200 for driving too fast for conditions, even if they are driving at or below the speed limit.
- Keep windows clear: Good visibility is crucial, especially in snowy conditions. Always completely clear all windows, including the front and back windshield, before getting on the road. In heavy snow, you may need to pull over periodically to clear your windows.
- Practice braking: It takes longer to come to a complete stop on slippery roads, and you could lose control if you try to brake too quickly. At the start of the season, it is a good idea to practice winter braking in an empty parking lot to get a feel for how your vehicle handles.
- Leave room: Keep extra distance between your vehicle and those around you. A little breathing room can be invaluable if one of you loses control. Leave even more space when traveling near tractor trailers, buses or snowplows.
- Know your vehicle: Every car handles differently in winter weather. Take some time to figure out your vehicle’s quirks so you are prepared when you encounter dangerous conditions. Remember — just because a vehicle has four-wheel drive doesn’t mean it’s any safer.
Wisconsin winter driving accidents
Drivers who don’t follow winter safety rules can be held financially liable if their negligence contributes to a motor vehicle accident.
If you or a loved one is injured in a crash during the winter, it is important to talk with an experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorney. The attorney will be able to work with a team of experts to reconstruct the accident and determine whether negligence played a role. If it did, the attorney can help you pursue fair compensation for losses including medical bills, future medical care, lost wages, loss of earning capacity and pain and suffering.
Of course, it is always better to prevent an accident before it occurs. This winter, make a point to practice safe driving. By doing so, you can help protect everyone on the road.