As winter approaches the Pacific Northwest, it’s time to think about preventative measures we can take to keep ourselves and others safe out there on the road. Colder temperatures can bring hazards like snow and ice, while earlier sunsets leave roads in darkness for longer stretches of time. Other potential issues, such as foggy weather limiting visibility and intoxicated drivers climbing behind the wheel after holiday parties, can also increase the risk of a collision during the winter months. Suffering an auto accident injury can upend your life in several ways, from coping with a lengthy physical recovery to wondering how you will be able to cover the medical costs and lost wages associated with your injury. Below is a brief overview of increased driving hazards during the winter months and what precautions drivers throughout Oregon and Washington can take to reduce the likelihood of sustaining an auto accident injury.
How Winter Weather Impacts Road Safety
According to data from the American Highway Users Alliance, more than 116,800 people suffer injuries in motor vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy, or icy pavements. Road surface conditions are the most critical safety factor during a winter weather event—more so than other factors, like visibility, air temperature, wind speed, or precipitation intensity. Icy, slushy, or snowy roads make it harder for vehicles to travel safely, as cars may slip, slide, skid, or lose traction. Drivers must exercise greater caution when traveling during the winter, ensuring they can respond appropriately to deteriorating road conditions. Additionally, even the most attentive drivers may find themselves hit by another vehicle that has drifted, skidded, or lost control. A larger number of distracted or intoxicated drivers may also increase the risk of collision and injury.
Preventative Measures to Increase Road Safety
First, it’s important to take winter weather seriously. Many people assume that driving their car over ice or snow isn’t much different from driving in the rain. However, a misguided sense of confidence can lead to dangerous outcomes, with drivers hitting an icy patch and colliding with a nearby vehicle. Below are some safety measures drivers throughout the Portland and Vancouver area can take to reduce their risk of collision.
Checking Tires and Brakes
As we head into the winter months, now is the best time to ensure your tires are properly inflated and that your brakes are fully functional and respond well. Those who know they will do a significant amount of traveling in snowy conditions should consider purchasing snow tires. It’s also a good idea to check your wiper blades and load your vehicle with de-icer windshield washer fluid that will not freeze in colder weather.
Pay Attention to Your Speed
While drivers should observe speed limits under all circumstances, you should especially monitor your speed when traveling in snowy or icy weather. Slow down when road conditions are particularly hazardous, and be sure to accelerate and brake as gradually as possible to avoid sudden skidding or sliding. Sudden movements can cause your vehicle to spin out of control, so remain attentive, mindful, and focused on the road ahead.
Leave Space Between Vehicles
Just because you feel comfortable driving in winter weather does not mean that everyone else does. Give other drivers and their vehicles plenty of space and widen the distance between you and the car ahead of you. If you are too close to another vehicle, their sudden skidding or loss of control could cause their car to collide with yours. It’s best to travel more slowly and cautiously than to take these risks.
Do Not Drive While Intoxicated
Holiday parties often involve alcohol. If you choose to imbibe at these parties, make the responsible decision to give your car keys to a designated driver or take a ride home in a Lyft or Uber. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol increases the risk of collision, as your reaction times are more delayed, and the winter road conditions can pose additional threats to your safety. It’s also important to assume that not all drivers on the road may be sober, so give yourself plenty of room between your car and other vehicles.
When a Car Crash is Inevitable
While we can all take steps to decrease our risk of collision during the winter, accidents still happen. If you have suffered an auto accident injury, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and anxious about your physical, emotional, and economic recovery. However, you do not have to go through this challenging experience alone. Enlisting the guidance and support of a trusted and compassionate Vancouver personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure you can maximize your settlement offer and secure the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
If you need help seeking compensation after a car accident injury in Portland or Vancouver, call Henderson Taylor Law Firm today at (360) 737-1478 to speak with a trusted and compassionate personal injury attorney.