The headlines this morning said it all:
- Buffalo Car Accident Kills Two
- Snow Causes Two Car Crash in Elmira
- Corning Highway Accident Due to Snow
In my area of Upstate New York, the first snow falls of the year provoke lots of car crashes and auto accidents. Having spent my career representing people badly injured or killed by accidents, I have seen the same accident causes over and over again. The sad part is that the vast majority of accidents are totally avoidable IF drivers gave some basic thought to safe driving practices. Frankly, there would be a whole lot less winter car crashes if people used some basic common-sense when winter driving. Here’s a few tips to make you a safer driver in the snow and ice:
- Install Good Snow Tires— This seems like a no brainer but I can’t tell you the number of lawsuits I have handled where drivers were driving on bad or even bald tires. In the winter, you need traction and snow tires are essential.
- Clean the Snow and Ice Off Your Windows BEFORE You Start Driving— How many times have you watched drivers trying to drive with just a small cleared area on the front windshield. How the heck do you expect to make safe turns if you can’t see out your side windows? How are you going to see the cars behind you if you can’t see out your rear window or use your mirrors? OK, I know it’s cold and you just want to get in to the shelter of your car but it is critical that you take the time to clear your windows.
- SLOW DOWN IN THE SNOW— Simple but the single best way to avoid a car crash. Just because the speed limit is 55mph or 35mph does NOT mean it is safe to go that speed. Remember: As a driver, you are legally required to have your car under control at ALL times.
- Choose the Safest Route— As someone who has lived in this area of Upstate NY for my whole life, I am always amazed that some people will choose routes that everyone knows are very dangerous in the winter. For instance, we live in an area of steep hills and deep valleys. Often, it might be faster to go over a hill rather than the long way around a hill but in winter conditions it is usually much safer to avoid the hills whenever possible.
- Carry a Cell Phone and Equip Your Car with Basic Supplies— God forbid that you follow these safety rules and you have an accident anyway but if that does happen to you make sure you have some basic supplies like a cell phone, blankets, flares, drinking water, some food. If you are involved in an accident, most experts strongly urge you to stay in your car (so long as it is in a safe location) and wait until emergency help arrives rather than setting off in a snowstorm to find help. Every year we hear of someone who dies due to exposure following a car accident…the best advice is to stay put.
I wish you a safe and happy winter driving season. “Let’s be CAREFUL out there!”
Thanks for reading,
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529