Every year, winter weather conditions contribute to thousands of dangerous car accidents across the country. Despite the best efforts of the government to keep the roads safe during snowstorms and rainstorms, it is never possible to eliminate the risk of driving in inclement weather. Winter weather can make it impossible or extremely difficult for drivers to see clearly out of their windshield and windows. Temperature extremes can also hurt a vehicle’s performance.
Drivers cannot control the weather, but they can control how they react to winter weather conditions. Suppose you have been injured in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence. In that case, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit or by filing an insurance claim through the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
Winter Weather-Related Car Accident Statistics
Every year, approximately 5,891,000 car accidents occur in the United States. Nearly 21% of these car accidents, over 1.2 million, are related to bad weather conditions. The US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration defines weather-related car accidents as those that happen in adverse weather or on slick pavement. Adverse weather includes the following conditions:
- Severe crosswinds
- Blowing debris, sand, or snow
Dangerous pavement conditions include wet pavement, icy pavement, and slushy pavement. The majority of bad weather-related car accidents, approximately 70%, occur during rainfall on wet pavement. Car accidents that involve wet pavement account for over 324,000 injuries every year and contribute to over 4,000 people’s deaths. Wet pavement contributes to 12% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents involving rain cause over 200,000 injuries every year and the death of nearly 2,500 people every year.
Rainfall Contributes to Dangerous Wet Pavement Conditions
Of all of the car accidents that happened during inclement weather, 46% of them occurred during rainfall. Additionally, 18% of all inclement weather car accidents happen because of sleet or snow, and 13% happen on icy pavement. Snow and sleet contribute to over 50,000 injuries every year and the deaths of nearly 700 people.
Finally, 16% of bad weather-related car accidents happen on the slushy or snowy pavement. Fog is only responsible for 3% of bad weather-related car accidents according to a 10-year average analyzed by Booz Allen Hamilton and based on relevant NHTSA data. Still, fog-related car accidents cause nearly 9,000 injuries a year and the deaths of an average of 464 people.
On average, nearly 15% of all fatalities related to car accidents are caused by adverse weather conditions and or slick pavement. About injury-related car accidents, 22% of property damage happens because of slick pavement. Wet pavement is also responsible for many injuries every year, with 19% of all weather-related car accident injuries involving wet pavement.
How Does Winter Weather Impact Driving on Freeways?
Winter weather, including wet pavement and snowy asphalt, can cause drivers to lose traction with the street and veer off course, crashing into another vehicle. Winter weather also indirectly causes car accidents by slowing down traffic and causing lane obstructions. For example, even light snow or rain can reduce the average speed on a freeway between 3% and 13%. When heavy snow falls on a freeway, the average driver speeds can reduce by up to 40%.
Additionally, any type of decrease in driver visibility can cause drivers to reduce their speed by 10% to 12%. When it is raining outside, drivers reduce their speed and average about 25%, even when the rainfall is light. Decreased speeds can cause accidents in some cases. When drivers are creeping along slowly, they may be more inclined to pick up their cell phones and send text messages. Drivers may think that doing so is less dangerous than normal because they are traveling slowly. Drivers may become impatient and drive more recklessly in an attempt to get home.
Tips for Winter Weather Driving
With nearly 17% of car accidents taking place in snowy conditions, it is wise to consider how we can all drive safely in winter. Up to 70% of roads in the US are located in snowy geographic locations, increasing winter weather accidents. Many drivers cannot stay at home during the frequent storms in snowy areas, but they should use reasonable care in dangerous winter weather conditions.
One of the most important things drivers can do is make sure they prep their motor vehicles for winter driving conditions. Include a winter emergency kit in your car and have your car serviced before winter weather conditions begin. Doing so will help you make sure your tires are in good condition to handle the wet and snowy pavement. Your mechanic can also check your brakes and make sure they are working correctly. Periodically check your tire pressure and ensure that your tires are correctly inflated, reducing the risk that you will skid or lose control of your vehicle in a winter weather accident.
Make sure that you properly de-ice your windshield before driving. You will benefit from having the best visibility possible to prevent an accident, and you want to avoid a piece of ice flying off your windshield. Car accidents occur every year when ice chunks crash into another vehicle and distract or injure the driver. Make sure that if you skid on black ice or wet pavement, you do not slam on your brakes, as doing so will likely make the car accident more severe.
Contact a New York City Car Accident Lawyer
Every winter, clients come into our office after suffering severe injuries in winter weather car accidents. At Pulvers Thompson, our attorneys understand how dangerous road conditions can become in New York City. We are prepared to Advocate assertively on behalf of our clients to obtain the compensation they deserve. Contact the experienced New York car accident lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation.