Yes, winter is here again in Massachusetts, like it or not. Around the holidays, a winter storm leaves beautifully covered roadways with fresh snow. While a winter storm can leave the Massachusetts landscape with scenes fit for a postcard, it also creates dangerous driving conditions that can lead to very serious accidents and injuries.
The state, cities and towns do a great job of clearing the snow and treating the ice on the many highways and roadways in Massachusetts. But, drivers should follow some important tips and operate their motor vehicles carefully to reduce the risk of a motor vehicle accident and injuries.
Tips to Follow When Driving in a Winter Storm
It is true that we cannot avoid all motor vehicle crashes. Sometimes things are out of our hands. But, following these tips for driving in the snow will greatly reduce the chances of and sometimes even avoid being injured in a car crash in a snow storm.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Sure, at the beginning of winter we are all busy with the holidays approaching. But, you should always make sure your vehicle is prepared for the winter. Check that all your lights work, including headlights, break lights, directional and fog lights. Invest in a pair of new windshield wipers and be sure to top off your windshield washer fluid. We all know how the salt and sand dumped on the highways and roadways can stick to the windshield and interfere with visibility. Being able to clean your windshield with washer fluid is very important. Also, make sure you have snow brushes and scrapers in your car to clear off your windshield and windows. Lastly, check your tires and inflate them properly. Improperly inflated tires can contribute to losing control of your car in a snow storm.
Always Use Your Headlights
A relatively new law in Massachusetts requires drivers to turn on their headlights when the vehicle’s windshield wipers are needed and that headlights should be in use for a half hour before sunrise and a half hour after sunset or when visibility is under 500 feet. Headlights, especially in a winter storm, helps other drivers identify you from a distance. If your car does not have an automatic headlight feature one can forget when to turn on lights. A good rule to follow is if your wipers are on your headlights should be on as well.
Allow More Travel Time
You know the roadways and highways will be full of slow moving traffic during a winter storm, which is a good thing. Allow yourself more time to travel so you are not rushing in a winter storm. Try to leave a little bit earlier and drive more slowly. Lower speeds will significantly reduce the risk of being in an accident.
Avoid Using Cruise Control
Sure, using cruise control can sometimes be helpful and convenient. But, using this feature is impractical on wet or snowy roads. You tend to remove your foot from the pedals while using cruise control, which can lead to slower reaction times and a greater likelihood of slamming on the brakes in case of an emergency. This can result in unnecessary skidding and losing control of your vehicle.
Be Aware Of Larger Vehicles
Tractor trailers and buses are unpredictable in storm conditions. Sometimes operators of large vehicles are unable to avoid losing control. Large vehicles also require longer stopping distances, especially on slick roadways. Being vigilant when driving in the snow near or around these massive trucks can help you react quicker to maneuver your vehicle and try to avoid a trucking accident in the event they lose control.
Of course, following these tips will not guarantee that you will not be injured in a car accident. You cannot control other drivers on the road that may be careless and negligent. But, following these tips will significantly reduce the risk of being injured in an accident.
Legal Issues in Motor Vehicle Accident Cases
If you happen to be injured in a car accident during a Massachusetts snow storm, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and losses. To seek compensation for your injures, you can file a personal injury claim or bodily injury claim with the other driver’s insurance company or a personal injury lawsuit. In a personal injury claim/lawsuit from a motor vehicle accident, the injured person must establish that the other driver was negligent. Negligence determines liability. If an injured person is successful in proving that the other driver was negligent, he or she should be able to recover financial compensation for injuries and losses suffered in the accident.
Injury claims from accidents that happen in snow storms can be difficult. Liability sometimes become an issue. In Massachusetts, a driver has a duty to exercise reasonable care in the operation of his or her vehicle, regardless of the weather conditions. If a driver skids out on black ice into oncoming traffic and crashes into another car, that driver will most likely be deemed to have failed to drive in a safe0 manner for the weather condition. Of course, most drivers will blame the ice, but legally he or she will generally be found at fault. Also, insurance companies often dispute liability in accidents that involve snow and ice based upon comparative negligence. This is where the insurance company will place some blame on your for causing or contributing to the accident by arguing that you were careless.
If you have been injured in an accident during a snow storm be sure to follow the Three Most Important Steps to Take After a Motor Vehicle Accident. Make sure you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in Massachusetts to understand the injury claim process and protect your rights.
Winters always seems long, but the nice weather will be here before you know it. Until then, be careful driving in the snow.
Speak With An Experienced Injury Lawyer Today
Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has over 35 years of experience handling personal injury claims. We have successfully represented clients, who were seriously injured in auto accidents in the snow and icy conditions we see every winter here in Massachusetts. Our experience and knowledge of injury cases offer accident victims an advantage against insurance companies in getting fair compensation for injuries.
Call us today at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online to get a case evaluation or answers to your questions.