During this time of year, a large swatch of the United States is consistently subjected to sub-freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and high winds. As anyone who has driven in a winter storm understands, snow and ice can wreak havoc on the way that a car, truck, or other vehicle handles. In addition, high winds and heavy precipitation can have an extremely detrimental effect on a driver’s ability to see the road in front of him or her. As a result, winter weather can result in significant motor vehicle accidents that may in turn lead to serious injuries. Many of these injuries have the potential to significantly affect a person’s quality of life and may even lead to long-term medical issues that require around-the-clock care.
Fortunately for people who live or visit areas where driving in winter weather is unavoidable, there are certain steps that they can take to reduce their risk of being involved in a winter weather accident. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration advises people who are anticipating driving in winter weather to follow the “three P’s of safe winter driving:” prepare for your drive, protect yourself, and prevent crashes on the road. More information about each aspect of winter weather safety can be found below.
In order to prepare for driving in winter weather, drivers can take the following steps:
Protecting yourself involves making sure that you minimize your risk of injury in the event that you are involved in an accident. Some of the steps that you can take to protect yourself and your family include:
Winter weather conditions can significantly increase a person’s risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Some of the ways that you can help prevent accidents include the following:
No matter how safe you are when you drive in winter weather, there is always a chance that outside factors can still cause you to be involved in an accident and suffer injuries. Sometimes, you may just unexpectedly hit an ice patch and lose control of your vehicle. In such situations, the incident is likely deemed to be no one’s fault and the accident was simply that—an accident. In other circumstances, other parties may have contributed to the accident through negligent acts or omissions.
You can be the safest driver on the road and you will still be unable to control the acts of other drivers. Some drivers may not be as cautious in winter weather conditions and may be overly confident. Such false confidence can lead drivers to speed, engage in distracted driving,and other dangerous behaviors. For example, a road may have a speed limit of 55 miles per hour, though winter weather conditions may cause it to be extremely and obviously dangerous to travel at that speed. If a driver decides to drive 55, loses control, and causes a collision, that driver would likely be found to be negligent
Winter weather accidents, like other motor vehicle accidents, have the potential of causing serious bodily injury. Because these accident accidents occur in winter weather, however, victims can also be exposed to secondary injury caused by extreme cold or other environmental issues. Some of the more common injuries sustained in winter weather accidents include:
These injuries can have varying complications, depending on their severity. Many minor injuries may be self-resolving with little or no medical intervention, while more serious injuries may require intensive and long-term medical care. In the most serious cases, victims of winter weather car accidents may be unable to work or return to their everyday lives.
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