Injured in a Winter Weather Auto Accident?
Winter can make the roads in Chicago dangerous. Weather is a factor in thousands of car accidents every year. Whether there is a fresh dusting of snow, a thick coating of ice, or even just the slushy snow remains from the last storm, the winter weather conditions can have a significant effect on the roads and on every driver's ability to travel.
When inclement weather strikes, the best advice is always to stay off the roads whenever possible. If you are at home and do not need to leave, consider staying where you are until conditions improve. But in some cases, it may not be possible to avoid the weather entirely. Whether for work or a family event, you may need to travel. If you find yourself in that position, consider the following safety tips before you leave:
Safety Tips Before You Leave Home
Make sure your vehicle is in proper working order
Before bad weather begins, consider having a mechanic or other professional review your vehicle. You want to make sure it is fully functioning. An expert can verify that the car's heater, defogger, windshield wipers and washer lines, headlights, and tail lights are all working properly.
Remove any snow and/or ice from your vehicle
If you park your car outdoors or if your car sits outside while you are running errands, snow or ice are bound build up. Failing to remove the snow or ice before driving may limit your ability to see as and pose a danger to others. If snow is piled on your car and you start driving down an expressway or street, the snow may blow and potentially go into the path of another driver, decreasing that driver's ability to see. Snow and ice should also be removed from the headlights, tail lights, and brake lights of your car so that other drivers can see you from a distance.
Drive with your headlights on
Winter weather often leads to a decrease in visibility while on the road. One of the best things any driver can do to ensure their car is visible is to drive with the headlights on, even during daylight hours. Clouds and snow can block out much of the sunlight during the winter. Artificial light may make a significant difference during daytime driving.
What Are Safety Tips While Driving in Winter Weather?
Speeding only makes snow and ice worse when it comes to driving. The faster a car travels, the greater the chances are that the tires will slip or skid on the road's surface. This can potentially lead a driver to lose control of a vehicle. Eliminate the need for speed by leaving a few minutes early. This will allow yourself extra time to reach your destination without rushing.
Increase stopping distance
As a general rule, it takes about three times the distance to bring a car to a complete stop in winter weather as it does during optimal conditions. This means that you should increase the distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you. This will help guarantee that you have plenty of time to stop if necessary. Additionally, as you approach an intersection, keep in mind that it will take you longer to slow or stop. Begin to decelerate your vehicle sooner than normal in preparation for a stop sign or a red light.
A car can skid if a driver attempts to turn too sharply or stop too suddenly, especially in winter. Ice often is a contributing factor to a skid. This is where a vehicle slides, often sideways, as the tires lose their grip on the road. To prevent a skid, brake slowly and gently. If you do not have anti-lock brakes on your vehicle, pump the brakes when encountering snow and ice.
Be aware of changing conditions
Often, the roads may seem clear of snow and ice but an overpass or bridge may be covered in both. This is because the air flow around bridges and overpasses allow the surfaces of both to cool faster. Ice may form there before it can form on other portions of the roads. Just because one section of a street is free from ice does not guarantee that all areas will be the same.
Let road crews go first
Plow trucks, front end loaders, and salt trucks are heavy vehicles meant to handle well in the snow. They are driven by trained professionals who are working hard to get the roads as clear and safe as possible for the benefit of all drivers. If you are near or behind a plow truck, do not pass it. Let the plow do its job. You can take comfort knowing that the road behind the plow truck is likely much safer than the portion in front of it.
Stay home if possible
Some winter weather is too severe to make driving safe. If you are facing an extreme storm or if one is forecast, consider waiting at home. Or, wait somewhere safe until the worst part of the weather passes. Your safety will increase and the time it takes you to drive likely will decrease if you travel in more desirable conditions.
How To Get Legal Help After a Chicago-Area Winter Car Crash?
Even taking every safety precaution, it is still possible to get in a winter weather car crash while driving in Chicago. If it happens to you and sustain injuries, know that you can seek relief against any negligent party.
In many cases, these claims can be brought against an at-fault driver who was not putting safety first. Rather, he or she was acting in a reckless or negligent manner. If a driver is traveling too fast for conditions, following too closely, or otherwise ignoring traffic conditions, you may be able to seek relief against that driver's automobile insurance carrier. In the event you suffer injury while riding in the same car as the negligent driver, you may still have a claim. Speaking with a Chicago injury lawyer after your crash may help you understand what legal options are available to you.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., our accident lawyers believe in fighting for the rights of those hurt by the negligence of others. Over the years, we have helped many injured car accident victims obtain the relief they deserve. If you have injuries from an accident due in part by winter weather, call us today at (312) 924-7575. Let us provide you with a free case consultation. We will never charge a fee unless you win your case.
If you have been hurt in a winter weather car crash, call us today at (855) LAW-CHICAGO or Contact Us online for a free consultation.