More than 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,000 suffer injuries in automotive accidents because of snowy, icy or slushy roadways every year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.
Connecticut is known for having serious winter weather, and it is not uncommon for automotive accidents to occur because of snow on the roadway. If you are injured in a winter weather accident, the experienced New Haven auto accident attorneys at D’Amico & Pettinicchi can help.
To help ensure your safety and avoid a car accident this winter, follow these tips:
1. Prepare Your Vehicle
Before driving in winter weather, make sure your vehicle is ready for the harsh conditions. Equip your vehicle with winter tires, which are designed to grip the snow and ice and provide for better handling. Winter tires can also allow you to brake more quickly.
Also, be sure that you have enough pressure in your tires. Because air contracts in colder weather, you may have less pressure in your tires during the winter months. Properly inflated tires provide for better grip and handling.
Have a professional perform a winter inspection on your vehicle and make sure to:
- Add antifreeze to your vehicle
- Install new wiper blades
- Inspect your battery
- Replace washer fluid with an antifreeze variety
2. Check Road and Weather Conditions
Before venturing out, check the weather conditions so you know what to expect. Plan your route ahead of time and consider alternative paths if you run into dangerous weather conditions.
If temperatures are below freezing, make the assumption that you may come across ice and plan accordingly. Drive carefully when approaching bridges and other areas that are more likely to ice.
3. Clear Your Vehicle
Connecticut law requires you to remove ice and snow from your vehicle before using it. Specifically, you are required to remove ice and snow from the following locations on your vehicle:
Motorists who fail to remove snow or ice from their vehicle can be fined for violating the law.
4. Slow Down
Posted speed limits are designed for optimal weather conditions. If there is snow or other wintry weather, reduce your speed significantly. If you start to skid, you are driving too fast.
Give yourself extra traveling time so you will not be in a hurry and tempted to drive faster than the road conditions allow.
5. Increase Your Following Distance
When driving on snow and ice, you will need more space than usual to come to a complete stop. Because of this, you should make sure to provide plenty of space between you and the driver in front of you.
To do this, fix your eyes on a stationary object on the side of the road. Once the driver in front of you passes the object, begin counting. Make sure there are at least six seconds between when the vehicle in front of you passed the object and when your vehicle passes it. Depending on road conditions, you may need to allow for more space and time.
If the vehicle in front of you suddenly stops, this strategy can provide you with the extra space and time you need to avoid an accident.
6. Avoid Abrupt Movements
Abrupt movements on slippery roads can cause your vehicle to react in ways you did not intend. It is best to use slow and deliberate movements and motions when driving, including when applying the brake or gas and turning.
If you start to skid, try not to overreact to correct yourself. Avoid trying to brake abruptly or yanking on the steering wheel. Instead, slowly apply movements while your vehicle is heading forward. Slower and easy movements can help you avoid skidding.
7. Know How to Recover from a Skid
How you should react to a skid depends on the type of brakes you have. If you have antilock brakes, press firmly on the brakes. If you start to spin, turn into the spin to try to control your vehicle. If you do not have antilock brakes, pump gently on the brakes.
However, do not immediately use your brakes if it is not necessary, and avoid slamming on your brakes.
8. Avoid Distractions
Distracted driving is particularly dangerous when weather conditions make the drive riskier than usual. Avoid texting, talking on a cellphone, adjusting the radio, talking to passengers or performing any other activities when driving in snow. Your full attention needs to be focused on the road in front of you.
9. Use Your Turn Signal
Let other drivers know your intentions by using your turn signal well before your turn. This can make sure the vehicle behind you has time to slow down or come to a stop to avoid running into the back of your car as you slow to make a turn.
10. Do Not Use Cruise Control
When driving in snow, it is important that you have full control over your vehicle at all times. Using cruise control can mean that you are less able to quickly react to poor road conditions and situations. And if your vehicle skids while on cruise control, it will likely continue accelerating, which can make the situation worse.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Unfortunately, you cannot control the other drivers on the road. No matter how careful you are, you may still wind up in an accident due to the careless acts of others.
If you are injured in a winter accident, contact D’Amico & Pettinicchi to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation. We will review the details of your accident and injuries to determine if you have a case. If you do, we will work to help you get the compensation you deserve.