The new year dawned cold and blustery across the Midwest, signaling the start of three of the most dangerous months of the year on the road in the tri-state area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Parking lot collisions and slip-and-fall accidents are a serious concern. But winter weather injuries are most common on the road. Ice and snow not only present their own unique risks, but also increase the risk that all types of poor motorist behavior will result in a serious or fatal traffic collision.
Winter weather driving safety in focus
Drivers are urged to focus on traffic safety this winter. Whether dealing with lake-effect snow in Ohio or Pennsylvania, or the narrow hills and valleys of West Virginia, drivers in the Midwest are expected to face the brunt of the driving risks over the next several months.
As the Tribune-Review reported, 2018 began with freezing rain, ice and snow that resulted in reduced speed limits on many main roadways.
Winter traffic safety begins with proper planning. Making sure your vehicle is safe and prepared for the rigors of winter driving can go a long way toward keeping you safe, according to Occupational Health and Safety.
Properly maintained batteries, tires, brakes, fluid levels, heat and defrost, headlights, taillights and turn signals all contribute to your ability to stay safe during poor weather.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation offers a number of winter driving safety tips, including:
- Slow down and increase following distance.
- Carry an emergency travel kit.
- Always travel with a charged cell phone and at least half a tank of gas.
- Beware of black ice and pay particular attention on bridges and highway exit ramps.
- Travel with your headlights and wipers on during bad weather.
- Avoid sudden stops and starts and pay particular attention on hills and at intersections.
- Do not pass snow plows or get between trucks in a plow line.
- Have your vehicle serviced and make sure it has appropriate tires for ice and snow.
- Avoid sudden movements. By braking and steering as slowly as the situation allows, you will maximize your chances of maintaining control of your vehicle and avoiding a serious collision.
Responsibility and liability for winter collisions
Resolving to allow yourself extra time when traveling this winter will reduce your risk of being involved in a collision. And avoiding common bad habits behind the wheel, including distracted driving and following too closely, will reduce your chances of being found at fault in the event of a collision.
Ice and snow can make a serious impact, but poor weather never excuses a motorist's failure to use proper care. Something as simple as clearing the ice and snow from your vehicle can reduce the risk, while not doing so can lead to a serious or fatal collision. Flying snow and ice can also cause injury to other motorists or pedestrians for which you are deemed responsible.
Carefully documenting weather related accidents is an important first step. But early consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney is equally critical when it comes to identifying other contributing causes and determining who is responsible.