Based on statistics from the Federal Highway Administration, about 25 percent of all weather-related crashes can be attributed to snow, ice and slushy conditions. Drivers in Connecticut are all too familiar with heavy precipitation disrupting road travel during winter and early spring – even light snow can cause a messy commute!
Keeping traction with the road might seem out of your control in wintry conditions but all drivers have a responsibility to adjust their habits to changing weather patterns.
Although certain situations are unavoidable, like encountering a poorly maintained road or signage that’s missing, drivers are expected to know the potential risks before heading out. In a winter-weather car accident claim, several factors beyond the road conditions play a role in establishing responsibility. Here’s what you should know.
Responsibility In a Winter-Weather Car Accident
Despite a driver’s best efforts to maintain control of the vehicle, a car accident can happen during a snowstorm if the appropriate precautions are not taken. In establishing liability, the following factors may be considered:
- Was your vehicle ready to take on winter roads? Underinflated tires, broken wipers or snow covering the windows could all contribute to a preventable accident.
- Did you adjust your driving to the weather conditions? Speeding and tailgating are not appropriate behaviors, especially in slippery conditions.
- Did you have to be out on the road at that time or could you have stayed home?
Weather events do not automatically absolve a driver of liability. Snow, ice and sleet can play a role in any damage caused in an accident but the weather alone is typically not a defense, unless the weather is deemed “extremely unexpected”.
An insurance carrier may establish 50-50 fault in a winter-weather car accident if both drivers lost control due to the conditions. If the roadway was poorly maintained, the municipality responsible for its upkeep could also be found partially at fault.
How to Drive In Winter Weather
Snow can decrease visibility and make roads slippery, so all drivers are expected to respond to the conditions and approach the roads with care.
To prevent an accident, it’s important to prepare your vehicle and be ready for changing conditions once you’re behind the wheel. This may entail:
- Fully cleaning snow off your vehicle. In Connecticut, it’s illegal to drive with snow on your car.
- Reducing your speed below the posted limit, especially on roads that haven’t been cleared yet.
- Giving other vehicles enough room, including snow plows. In harsh winter conditions, keep a 7 to 8-second distance from other motorists.
- Staying off the roads during a state of emergency, which might involve rescheduling plans or working from home.
- Making sure your vehicle is ready. Check your tire pressure and treads, make sure the windshield wipers and headlights are working properly, and pack an emergency kit.
- Continuing to follow the rules of the road. Use your turn signals to alert other drivers of your upcoming maneuvers.
- Adjusting your driving habits to the weather. Travel slowly to prevent spinning out, do not use cruise control and avoid distractions.
Were you driving carefully in the snow, only to be struck by another motorist? To hold the negligent driver or entity responsible, contact Trantolo & Trantolo’s car accident attorneys.