Do Yourself a Favor – Heed PDOT’s Winter Weather Warnings
February 22nd, 2019 by Wapner Newman
Winter weather can be unpredictable and dangerous in Pennsylvania, so it pays to be prepared and heed warnings from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Ice and snow on the roads or limited vision make driving particularly hazardous. As a result, during the winter, especially in adverse conditions, motorists should practice basic winter driving skills and build extra time into their schedules in order to prevent a deadly crash.
Winter driving in Pennsylvania is even more hazardous than in most other states. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Pennsylvania has an average of about 83 fatal car accidents during the winter months, making our state No. 3 in the country, after only Ohio and Michigan.
If you or a loved one was involved in a vehicle crash due to another party’s negligence or responsibility, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, property loss, and loss of life’s pleasures. However, your case must be handled correctly and competently or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.
What Causes Winter Accidents?
The following are the leading causes of winter crashes:
- Poor Visibility — It’s hard to avoid hazards you cannot see; and winter storms, blizzards, hail, heavy snow, rain and fog all reduce visibility and increase the risk of an accident. When snow piles up, it camouflages not only other vehicles, but traffic signs, pedestrians, and objects along the road.
- Slippery Conditions — Slippery black ice forms on roads from light freezing rain or snow that has melted and re-frozen. This ice is difficult to avoid because it can’t be seen.
- Improperly Equipped Vehicles — Tires that are worn, bald, or not equipped for snow and ice have poor traction and can slip on the road or get stuck in snow. Poorly maintained or broken headlights or taillights, defroster fans, and windshield wipers make it more difficult for drivers to see.
- Snow Improperly Removed — Snow or ice that remains on vehicles can fly off and cause serious injuries or damage.
While you can’t change the weather, there are things you can do to increase safety and help avoid winter accidents:
- Don’t travel. When weather is bad, it is safest to postpone unnecessary travel and stay off the roads. If you have to brave the storm, slow down, drive carefully and be sure your vehicle is ready to handle winter conditions. Bad weather travel takes longer, so plan ahead and build in extra travel time.
- Get your car serviced and in condition. Before winter storms hit, have a mechanic check car’s brakes, hoses, belts, battery, defroster, and heater. Also check fluid levels, headlights and taillights, windshield wipers, tread depth and tire inflation. Check for fluid leaks and make sure your battery has sufficient voltage to start your vehicle in cold weather. Flush your cooling system and use the right coolant mix, usually a 50/50 mix of coolant to water.
- Pack an emergency kit. In case you get stranded by the weather, PennDOT suggests including a flashlight and batteries, first aid supplies, jumper cables, non-perishable food and bottled water. Also include a shovel, ice scraper, gloves, and extra blankets for cold protection.
- Avoid snow plows. Snow thrown from a plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control. Be aware that the plow is wider than the truck, and remain at least six car lengths behind an operating plow. Move as far away from the center line as safely possible when a plow truck is traveling toward you. Never attempt to pass or get between trucks plowing side by side or travel next to a plow truck.
- Keep your lights on in poor visibility conditions. Low beams often make it easier to see in heavy or blowing snow, and it is a Pennsylvania law that car lights must be on when a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.
- Clear any snow off your car before heading out on the road. Include windows and mirrors for visibility, and hood, roof and trunk.
- Do not start a big trip without a full tank of gas.
- If you hit black ice, do not speed up or swerve to avoid it. Keep calm and keep your steering wheel straight.
- Slow down, and drive at a speed suitable for conditions. Avoid sudden starts and stops. Do not tailgate, and allow plenty of stopping distance between vehicles.
- Be alert, awake, prepared and cautious at all times and aware of other drivers to decrease your risk of accidents.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Car crashes can result in serious injuries that can maim, disfigure, and cause pain and suffering that may last a lifetime. If you or a loved one has been harmed or someone has died in a crash involving someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. However, you should speak to an attorney even before your insurance agent, as insurance companies put their own interests first.
Don’t delay. Contact us online or call our offices today for your free consultation.