Recent summers have been plagued with high temperatures and frequent rainstorms. Seasons like these may cause people to evaluate their driving habits in order to be as safe as possible and avoid an accident. This guide discusses how to avoid car accidents in poor weather conditions, what to do after a bad weather car accident, and how cases are built for bad weather car accident claims against negligent drivers after suffering vehicle damage or personal injury.
Pennsylvania Laws Regarding Driving and Weather
Before driving in adverse weather conditions, it’s imperative to be aware of the laws in your state regarding weather. In Pennsylvania, headlights must be on on when the vehicle’s wipers are on and when a driver cannot see 1000 ft. ahead due to weather or light.
Be sure to clear ice and snow off of your entire vehicle before driving. If snow or ice falls from your car and causes harm to another person, you may be fined up to $1000.
Listen to local weather advisory alerts. Some alerts are more serious than others, but be sure to check them before deciding to drive. Pennsylvania residents should check the PA 511 online weather information to see if there are warnings in their area.
Difficult Driving Conditions & How to Avoid a Weather-related Car Accident
Remember, if you are driving and feel incapable of safely proceeding, pull over and wait for the weather to subside. An obvious way to avoid bad weather car accidents is to not drive in poor conditions, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Use the following tips to have the safest possible trip.
Decreased visibility – Though windshield wipers and headlights improve your sight during precipitation, your visibility still decreases. This can lead to accidents if a driver is not vigilant and focused while in a storm.
Less traction – According to PennDOT, 18% of all accidents in 2017 occurred on wet roads. If a driver is moving too fast, stops suddenly, or turns quickly, they can lose control of their vehicle due to the slippery surface. Hydroplaning is a terrifying phenomenon most drivers encounter at some point in which a layer of water forms between the tires and the road, causing the vehicle to skid. Traction can also be reduced due to snow, sleet, ice, or rain so no matter what kind of precipitation is occurring, it’s crucial to be aware of the road’s texture.
Flooding – If a car drives over a deep puddle, the vehicle may become stuck and even damaged due to water seeping into its internal structures. This can occur during heavy rainstorms or when ice and snow melt causing pools of water to form.
Ice – Black ice is a huge culprit of winter car accidents. The layer of ice is so thin and transparent that drivers may assume it’s just water and take less precaution when passing over it. Typically, black ice affects bridges, overpasses, and shaded areas of the road during temperatures below freezing.
If you have to be out driving on a rainy or snowing night, follow these tips:
- Don’t brake or accelerate suddenly.
- Do not use cruise control because it will be difficult to control the vehicle’s speed when necessary.
- Use your windshield wipers to increase visibility.
- Avoid large puddles that may be too deep to cross. This will prevent getting stuck in the water or damaging the vehicle.
- Use headlights in order to improve your sight, as well as make you more visible to other drivers.
- Keep a generous distance between you and other cars.
- Check if the temperature is below or near freezing and remember that roads that look wet might be covered in black ice.
- Drive over ice with extreme caution and reduced speed. If possible, avoid bridges and overpasses where ice is most common.
Decreased visibility – Similar to precipitation, fog will affect a driver’s ability to see the road and obstacles. Fog may also condense onto the windshield, which calls for the use of wipers or the defroster to remove it.
Distorted perception – Not only does fog impair your ability to see, it can alter your perception of distance and speed. It can be difficult to accurately tell how far you are from other cars and how fast you and other vehicles are moving.
When driving in fog, be sure to use your headlights to increase visibilty. DO NOT USE HIGH BEAMS. High beams can actually bounce off of fog back into your field of view and make it more difficult to see.
Debris – Wind of any speed can cause debris to fly in front of a vehicle, startling the driver and impairing their vision.
Loss of control – Heavy gusts of wind that are common on bridges, near mountains, and next to larger vehicles like trucks, can also cause a driver to lose control of their steering.
If you must drive in windy conditions, remember to:
- Drive slower in high-speed winds as tailwinds push vehicles forward.
- Be prepared and braced for potential debris.
- Hold the steering wheel steady in order to maintain control during large gusts.
Tire blowouts – Extremely high temperatures, like the ones we’ve experienced this summer, can cause tires to dry out and become more susceptible to damage. In addition to weakening the rubber, heat causes tire pressure to rise and potentially lead to blowouts.
To prevent a sudden blowout, make sure you get your tires inspected regularly and changed when needed. Park in the shade if possible to prevent the damaging effects of direct sunlight on your tires.
Building a Case Against a Negligent Driver
It may make you feel better to know that a negligent driver will not be absolved of their actions due to poor weather. Insurance companies take the conditions surrounding an accident into consideration, but a driver is responsible for taking the necessary steps to avoid causing harm to others despite the weather. If the other driver has been found at fault for the collision, you should work with a personal injury lawyer in order to obtain your due compensation.Steps To Take for a Bad Weather Car Accident Claim
- Obtain a police report from the scene of the accident in order to have all the details in an official document.
- Record a recollection of the accident from your memory as well as from bystanders and passengers as soon as possible.
- Receive a medical evaluation and necessary treatment as quickly as possible in order to address your injuries and document a doctor’s opinion.
Need a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Bad Weather Car Accident?
If you think you have a case for a bad weather car accident claim after suffering from someone else’s negligent driving, please contact Donaghue and Labrum so we can help you get the compensation you deserve. We have a solid track record of working hard for our clients in order to ensure that justice is served. Don’t go through this alone – call us today !