Winter Driving and Car Accidents
Even the most experienced driver can find winter roads and conditions challenging. It’s simple to forget that the pavement is slippery or that you need to drive or maneuver slower to account for these conditions. But, when a lack of care leads to an accident on winter roads, the results can be devastating.
How Common Are Winter Car Accidents?
It might seem logical that more road accidents would happen during the winter, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, most accidents happen during the summer months and on weekends, when there are more drivers on the road. But that doesn’t diminish the threat of a car crash during the winter months.
The Federal Highway Administration reports that about 70% of the roads in the U.S. are in snowy regions, and Virginia certain has its fair share of snow in the winter. Each year, there are more than 156,000 crashes due to icy or snowy roads, resulting in over 116,000 injuries and more than 1,300 deaths.
Common Causes of Winter Car Accidents
Each year, 24% of weather-related vehicle accidents happen on icy, slushy, or snowy roads, and 15% occur during times of sleet or snowfall. Poor winter conditions not only create slippery pavement but will also reduce visibility and cover up markings, which can create additional hazards. Here are some of the most common causes of winter car crashes:
Driving Too Fast for Conditions
Speed is the most common cause of motor vehicle accidents in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but speed and winter conditions don’t mix. Drivers with a habitually “lead foot” are more likely to cause accidents at any time, but this can be deadly on icy and snowy roads. The speed limits are set at a certain level for a reason, and exceeding them can result in a vehicle hydroplaning or sliding into the path of another car, causing serious harm.
It can be tough to see when snow or sleet is blowing across the road. But when a driver fails to properly and fully remove ice and snow from their windshield and windows before getting behind the wheel, this can spell disaster. A proper scraper and de-icer are a must to maximize visibility.
It’s a fact that it will take a driver longer to get from one place to the next during a blizzard than it will during a sunny spring day. Drivers that don’t consider this basic math are more likely to speed in the worst conditions possible and become a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road.
Following Too Closely
It makes sense that stopping on slippery roads can be treacherous, but that doesn’t seem to stop many drivers from clinging to the bumpers of the vehicles in front of them. AAA says that the normal following distance in dry conditions is three to four seconds. But, this should be increased to eight to ten seconds in winter conditions. So, when a vehicle passes a landmark, the next driver should be a minimum of eight seconds behind them.
Braking in winter conditions is a skill that every driver should learn. Instead of jamming on the breaks, they should be slowly pumped. If the driver behind you isn’t following too closely, there should be plenty of room to stop safely. If a driver doesn’t brake properly, it can lead to fishtailing and dangerous crashes.
What to Do After a Car Crash in the Ice or Snow
Winter car accidents are dangerous and frustrating. No one wants to be out in those conditions. And now you’ve been hit by another vehicle and have to deal with an accident scene. If this happens to you, follow these steps to stay safe and protect your rights:
- Get to safety. Secondary accidents are more common during the winter because of poor visibility and reduced braking ability. Either move your car, if it’s driveable, or yourself to a safe spot.
- Call 911. Get immediate medical attention for yourself and anyone else that has been injured. Also, request that the police come to the scene for documentation.
- Preserve evidence. If possible, take some photographs of the accident scene and damage. Collect the details of everyone involved as well as any witnesses. Report the accident to your insurance company, but don’t give anyone a recorded statement.
- Speak with an attorney. Car accidents are frustrating enough, and winter weather can make everything more challenging. A skilled personal injury attorney can handle every aspect of your accident claim while you focus on getting better.
Contact an Experienced Virginia Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a snow or ice-related car crash due to another party’s negligence, The Pack Law Group will aggressively fight to safeguard your rights. We will investigate your claim and help you pursue the parties responsible for fair and just compensation.
Contact our Bedford office today at 540-586-7225 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation. We never collect a fee from you unless we obtain a favorable outcome in your case.