With winter weather comes a higher probability of serious, and sometimes fatal, car accidents. Ice, freezing rain, and low temperatures create treacherous conditions, and it’s important to prepare yourself so that you know how to drive on them safely. And, if you are involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, it is vital that you reach out to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Winter Car Accidents
Philadelphia is one of the ten most dangerous cities in the United States for winter weather driving, ranking 9th with drivers having, on average, 6.2 years between car accidents (compared to the national average of 1 accident every 10 years). According to the 2016 Pennsylvania Crash Facts and Statistics report, in PA there are more crashes per month from October to January than in any other months of the year.
Winter holiday crashes are a problem as well with the period around Thanksgiving being the worst, having a reported 4,531 car accidents in 2016 alone. There were 46,864 crashes from October to January, and of those 385 were fatal.
Preparing to Drive in Winter Weather
In an ideal world, no one would drive during the worst bouts of winter weather, but that is simply not practical. Knowing how to drive under adverse conditions such as in ice, snow, and on slippery roads will help ensure that you do not become another winter weather accident statistic.
First, recognize that driving in bad weather requires more attention and care. If you are fatigued or ill, try to avoid driving. When you decide to warm up your vehicle, remember to never do so in an enclosed area, such as your garage. Next, if you must drive in especially bad conditions, make sure someone knows where you are going and what route you plan to take.
Before leaving, clear off all the ice from your windows. Remember that if you only clear off what you need in order to see, you run the risk of causing problems for others: excess ice and snow that that blows off your car can impair another driver’s vision and cause an accident. Also make sure your headlights and mirrors are cleared before you take off. If you are in the middle of a snow storm (or a rain storm, for that matter), always turn on your headlights so that your vehicle will be easier to see.
Driving Safely During Cold Months
When you set out in wintry weather, remember that you may need to drive below the speed limit and allow plenty of room between your vehicle and the next. Always keep in mind that it will take a longer distance to stop on slick roads than on dry roads. For dry conditions, the recommended following distance is three to four seconds; for slick conditions, the distance should be extended to eight to ten seconds.
If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, remember to pump your brakes when trying to stop suddenly; if you do have anti-lock brakes, apply steady pressure. Remember to both look and steer in the direction that you want your vehicle to go. Also, do not use cruise control when driving on slick surfaces. Avoid accelerating suddenly, and never slam on the brakes – either action can cause you to quickly lose control of your car. The same goes for turning: take turns slowly, and avoid sudden swerves. Finally, keep your gas tank filled to at least half full to avoid a gas line freeze up.
Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer? Steps To Take After an Accident
If you are in an accident due to the negligence of another driver, call the police as soon as possible and request that they prepare a police report. Carefully obtain contact information from any witnesses, and record where the accident occurred, including cross streets and landmarks. Check to see if there is any surveillance footage from nearby businesses or traffic cams that could have captured the accident. If there is, request a copy of that footage. Take photos of all damage and debris that is involved. Do not admit fault and do not provide any type of recorded statement without speaking to a car accident lawyer first.
Be sure to go to the emergency room or your personal physician as soon as possible — even if you do not think you are injured. Some injuries, even serious ones, may not become noticeable for a few days. Any case against the other driver can be seriously damaged if you do not seek medical help in a timely manner.
Your next step is to contact an experienced car accident lawyer. Do your research by looking into their past settlements and verdicts, and make sure to confirm that they have significant trial experience in case it comes to that. A good personal injury lawyer will work with you so that you can receive the settlement you truly deserve, not the one that the insurance thinks you should settle for.
Finally — and this cannot be emphasized enough — stay off of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have destroyed many solid personal injury cases because the insurance company and their attorneys scour the plaintiff’s social media for even the most innocent statement or post that raises the slightest doubt about the validity of their claim.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer Offering Experience, Compassion, and Justice
The winter months are here, and with them come the most dangerous driving conditions of the year. If you or a loved one is unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, contact Donaghue & Labrum as soon as possible.
As personal injury and car accident lawyers serving Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, we have the combination of skill, twenty-five years of experience in personal injury law, decades of experience representing both defendants and plaintiffs, and proven success to help you get the settlement that you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation, and give us the chance to fight for you!