FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-11-27
Residents of Utah know that when the leaves fall off the trees and the sun sets a few hours early that the season of winter driving cannot be far away. Winter weather produces unique driving hazards that no motorist should overlook before hitting the road. Fortunately, there are changes motorists can make to their driving behaviors that can help them and other road users stay safe this winter.
Winter driving conditions cause hundreds of thousands of accidents
According to the Utah Department of Transportation, every year in the United States, 400,000 accidents on average occur that are attributable to winter weather driving conditions. These accidents cause an average of 1,300 deaths each year. These numbers are far too high and many accidents and fatalities could be prevented with safer winter driving behavior.
Winter weather hazards include icy roads, snow-covered roads and highways, icy bridges, black ice and decreased visibility due to high snowdrifts or poor wiper blades. These hazards can cause accidents, resulting in injury.
Some motorists believe that four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive is a magic bullet against winter driving hazards. While these types of powertrains help vehicles power through snowdrifts, they do little to prevent sliding on ice or to help drivers break in an emergency. In fact, sport-utility vehicles, including those with four-wheel or all-wheel drive, can be less stable on icy or snowy roads due to their high centers of gravity.
Prevent a winter accident with these safe behaviors
Fortunately, drivers can make a few simple adjustments to their typical driving and car care habits that will make them safer drivers in winter weather and prevent accidents and injuries. The number one safest thing drivers can do in winter weather is stay home. Making the smart choice to avoid driving in winter weather when possible can prevent accidents.
However, if drivers must drive in poor winter weather conditions, they should be sure to outfit their vehicles with the appropriate equipment. Tires are a motorist’s first line of defense against sliding on icy or snowy roads since they make contact with the roadway. Most new cars come with low rolling resistance tires, which perform poorly on wintery roads. Switching these tires out permanently with all-purpose tires or seasonally with winter tires can improve a vehicle’s grip on the road and help with emergency braking.
Drivers should also check their wiper blades and wiper fluid to make sure snow will be effectively swept from windshields. Winter weather requires anti-freeze wiper fluid that will not freeze in the wiper fluid reservoir, which could do damage to the reservoir and associated components. Lastly, drivers of pick-up trucks should put sandbags in the beds of their trucks to weigh down the vehicle’s back end and improve grip on the road.
In addition to these changes, motorists need to drive more defensively in winter weather than they may in normal driving conditions, since icy roads make it more difficult to stop short or swerve to avoid an accident. Additionally, defensive driving on roads with snow banks will help avoid collisions due to a lack of visibility.
Winter weather contributes to injury-causing motor vehicle accidents. Fortunately, those injured in winter weather accidents can pursue compensation from the responsible party through a personal injury lawsuit. To understand how to hold an at-fault driver accountable for your injuries, please contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.