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Winter in New York can be brutal. According to the National Climate Data Center, in some parts of the state the average snowfall is over 115 inches and the average low temperature is -6 degrees during the winter months. Keeping warm is a big enough challenge, but keeping safe on the roads during the winter can be an even bigger task. Winter brings weather-related car accidents, and New York drivers should be aware of the dangers of winter driving, some techniques to increase road safety in the winter and who can be held responsible for winter auto accidents.
Weather-related driving challenges
Winter weather presents a number of potential problems for drivers. Winter storms bring snow, ice and freezing rain. The freezing conditions make roads slippery; in some cases when pavement freezes, black ice forms – which can be almost impossible for drivers to see. Vehicles skid and spin out into ditches.
Snowfall makes it difficult to see while driving; blizzard conditions reduce visibility to zero. Large amounts of snow can also lead to cars getting stuck in snowdrifts.
Cold temperatures can also cause vehicles to malfunction. Batteries fail, parts freeze and break – and these problems can lead to accidents.
Tips for safer winter driving
Drivers can follow some simple steps to improve safety and prevent auto accidents while travelling on the roads, including:
- Check weather reports prior to beginning a trip in order to be aware of the road conditions
- Allow extra time for trips
- Slow down
- Increase following distance between vehicles
- Do not follow snow plows too closely and never attempt to pass snow plows
- Assume bridges are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than roads
- Keep emergency supplies in vehicles in the event of a breakdown or accident, such as flares, blankets, flashlights, shovels, warm clothing, jumper cables, ropes, ice scrapers, food and water
- Make sure vehicle tires are in good condition for maximum traction
Liability for accidents
Sections 1180(a) and 1180(e) of New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law prohibits drivers from travelling at speeds greater than reasonable for the conditions, “having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.” This means that drivers need to take weather conditions into account and moderate their driving. Using hand-held cell phones and texting while driving are illegal in New York, and are particularly dangerous in winter weather conditions.
When people do not use caution in winter driving and violate traffic laws, it leads to auto accidents. Drivers who cause accidents because they disregard weather conditions can be held liable for the injuries they cause.
If you have been injured in an auto accident speak with a personal injury attorney with broad experience handling these complex cases. A lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.
Here are valuable winter driving safety tips that will help you avoid liability if you end up in a car accident. This article is brought to you by Larkin Ingrassia, LLP.