North Carolina sees its fair share of inclement weather, especially during the winter months, when the state experiences freezing rain, sleet, and snow storms, all of which can wreak havoc on the roads. This in turn, makes it much more dangerous for motorists to drive during the winter when there is a higher risk of collision. While it is possible to recover compensation for the losses sustained in these accidents, doing so is often more difficult when inclement weather is involved, as this factor can make it more difficult to determine fault, so if you were recently injured in a crash during the winter months, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you begin building a case.
How Much More Common are Car Accidents During the Winter Months?
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) there are more than 5,891,000 car accidents every year. Unsurprisingly, inclement weather played a significant role in many of these collisions. In fact, the FHA estimates that more than 21 percent of all car accidents, or nearly 1,235,000 collisions are weather-related, which means that they occurred:
- In adverse weather, such as rain, sleet, snow, severe crosswinds, fog, or blowing snow; or
- On slick, wet, icy, or snowy pavement.
Of these weather-related crashes, approximately 18 percent occurred during snow or sleet storms, while 13 percent involved icy pavement, and 16 percent involved snowy or slushy roads. Unfortunately, accidents that occur in the winter tend to be more serious, with weather-related accidents causing nearly 15 percent of all fatal crashes and 19 percent of injury collisions, which breaks down to nearly 4,900 fatal crashes and more than 301,100 injury accidents a year.
The Dangers of Winter Driving
The high rate of car accidents during the winter months can be attributed to a number of different factors, including:
- Icy roads, which can keep tires from getting a good grip on the asphalt, making steering and braking much more difficult;
- Wet road surfaces caused by falling temperatures and the presence of snow, sleet, or rain;
- Slushy roads, which occur when a snow event changes to rain and often hide a layer of ice;
- Lack of visibility, which is often the result of snow storms or even drifts of snow blowing off of other vehicles; and
- Strong winds, which can make it difficult to steer and avoid hazards.
Accounting for these factors before starting a trip can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding a collision with another motorist. Unfortunately, even those who take the greatest of care when driving could be injured in an accident as the result of someone else’s negligence, in which case, it may be necessary to seek compensation from the at-fault parties for related medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Precautions to Take in the Winter Months
It can be easy, after months of mild conditions, to remember that driving in snow and ice requires particular care and special preparation. For instance, before driving in inclement weather, drivers should clear as much snow and ice from their vehicles as possible, including from the windows, mirrors, roof, hood, trunk, head and tail lights, and bumpers, as this can prevent snow from blowing off and obscuring the driver’s view. When driving, motorists should also be sure to take the following precautions:
- Slow down and maintain a safe following distance;
- Pass with extreme caution;
- Yield the right of way or come to a complete stop when approaching an intersection with non-functioning traffic signals;
- Drive smoothly without sudden turning, accelerating, or braking ; and
- Approach overpasses, tunnels, and bridges with caution, as these roadways tend to accumulate ice first.
North Carolina drivers should also remain particularly aware of black ice, which usually appears as wet spots on the road and is the result of melting snow and ice that refreezes into thin layers.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
With offices located in Raleigh, New Bern, and Morehead City, the dedicated car accident lawyers at Howard, Stallings, From, Atkins, Angell & Davis, P.A. are uniquely placed to assist clients throughout the state of North Carolina. To speak with a member of our car accident legal team about your own recent collision, please call 919-821-7700 or contact us online by completing one of our contact forms. And remember, for personal injury cases, we offer free consultations, so if you have questions or concerns about your own legal rights after a car accident, please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online today.