Ice and snow can lead to injury-causing winter car accidents

Icy roads make driving difficult and accidents likely.

Winter weather can wreak havoc on Connecticut roads. The pervasive chill can make vehicles stall, black ice on roadways could turn them into proverbial skating rinks, and freshly fallen snow being blown by the wind will significantly affect visibility. All these things make potentially injury-causing car accidents more likely in the wintertime. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report that between 11 and 17 percent of all car accidents are directly related to winter road or weather conditions. This doesn't mean, however, that there aren't precautions you can take to keep yourself and others safe during your cold season travels.

Changing the rules of the road

In dry, clear conditions, it is recommended to leave about eight seconds of following time between your vehicle and those in front of you in order to safely bring your vehicle to a stop from highway speeds. If the road is covered in snow, you'll need to double that distance to safely stop your vehicle; add ice into the mix, and your stopping time will triple. This means that you'll need to adjust your speed, following distance, stopping time, and the time you might need to respond to changes in traffic conditions. Essentially, you need to change the way you drive in severe winter weather in order to stay safe and avoid accidents.

In addition, you need to focus on your driving more intently in wintertime. Distracted driving is never recommended, as it is a dangerous, potentially deadly practice that leads to hundreds of thousands of accidents across the country each year. That being said, it can be even more hazardous in the winter, though, because it compounds the difficulty of safely navigating snowy or icy roads. Distracted driving results in slower reaction times for the driver; add that to your vehicle's slower reaction times because of winter weather conditions, and you have a recipe for disaster.

An ounce of prevention...

There are other things you can do to decrease your chances of an accident this winter. Many people may not understand how important it is to make sure not only to keep your own line of sight clear, but also to make your vehicle as easily seen to others as possible. Before heading out in snowy weather - or after the snow has stopped falling - you obviously need to take the time to clear your windshield and windows, to use your defrosters and to keep your windshield clear from road spray. This ensures that you can see the road ahead and traffic around you.

You should also clear snow from the top of your vehicle, off your trunk and around your bumpers and lights (headlights, turn signals and brake lights), though. This allows other drivers to see your vehicle clearly by keeping snow from blowing off and lets fellow motorists have an indication of what you're going to do, giving them time to account for your actions.

No matter how carefully you may drive or what precautions you may take, you could still be involved in a winter weather auto accident due to the careless or negligent actions of another driver. If you've been hurt in a car crash, you may be able to take legal action to hold the at-fault party responsible for your injuries, the damage to your vehicle and any incidental costs (like wages you lose while recovering). To learn more about your legal rights and options available, contact the New Haven-based Law Offices of James O'Rourke. Call the firm at 800-658-1245 or send an email today.