winter conditions

Winter Driving; Common Accidents & How to Stay Safe

Winter weather is often challenging for drivers, leading to more accident risks. Darker days coupled with cold temperatures can create slippery roads, meaning extra demands on both vehicles and on drivers’ skills to avoid a collision. Common accidents include rear-end collisions, sliding in intersections and accidents caused by poor visibility. The change in seasons from fall to winter should alert drivers to proceed more cautiously on the road.

Rear-end Collisions

While rear-end collisions are one of the most common accidents throughout the year, they are even harder to avoid during the winter because of the road conditions. Slippery roads make it harder to slow down or stop suddenly, so giving more distance between you and the vehicle in front of you and driving slower overall during poor winter driving conditions is recommended. According to ICBC Police Reported Data, the average number of collisions where someone is injured or dies because of driving too fast for the road conditions nearly doubles from fall to early winter – from 114 in October to 222 in December.

Sliding in Intersections

A common cause of car accidents in winter is sliding through stop signs and red traffic lights, especially where the road has not been salted or sanded to provide greater traction and help melt the snow. Often drivers blame the accident on the ice on the road despite being legally responsible for control of the vehicle. If roads are slippery, then you must reduce your speed and keep an eye out for stop signs or changing lights to be able to stop in the intersection.

Accidents Resulting from Poor Visibility

When it is snowing or raining, it can be more difficult to see other vehicles, pedestrians and objects, especially when it is windy and dark. It’s best to check the weather conditions before deciding to head out and, if you must drive, do so cautiously and with the headlights on at all times. If you are having difficulty seeing the road, the chances are that others are having difficulty seeing too. It is more difficult to anticipate what other drivers will do, so it is important to proceed carefully. Reduced visibility and more driving hazards in winter can be expected to last at least until the end of March each year.

How to Prepare For Winter Driving

There are several precautions you can take as a driver to try avoid winter accidents and claims of negligence if an accident occurs. Winterizing your vehicle, including by putting on winter tires, is an important first step. A winter vehicle inspection is also recommended, in order to determine the condition of the brakes, heater, exhaust system, the battery life, the condition of the windshield wipers and lights and any service work needed. Filling up the fluids to the level recommended in the vehicle manual is advised, especially the windshield washer reservoir. Carrying a brush, scraper, snow shovel in each of your vehicles for ice and snow removal is critical. Keeping an emergency driving kit in each of your vehicles is also recommended.

If you must drive in poor weather conditions, map your route in advance, give extra time for the drive and keep a charged cell phone with you. Ensure that your windshield and windows are clear, use your headlights, be mindful of distractions and don’t use cruise control. Keep your speed down, increase your stopping distance, watch for road hazards and drive defensively. If you slide on black ice, look straight down the road at where you need to go while keeping a light grip on the wheel. Never drive fatigued or impaired. Don’t pass snowplows as they have extended wing plow blades that often can’t be seen because of the snow cloud being kicked up by the snowplow. Take public transit when possible as an alternative to driving and avoid any unnecessary trips.

Contact Kenneth Cristall Law Corporation, BC Car Accident Lawyers

In winter, you cannot be overly prepared to avoid a car accident. If you or someone you love is injured in a car accident in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Richmond, Langley or Surrey or the surrounding areas, our personal injury lawyers can help. We can report the accident to ICBC and handle the rest for you. Contact us at 604-654-2250.

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