This time of year can bring some of the worst winter weather for America. Ice and snow means treacherous driving conditions, and drivers should exercise extreme caution when driving in inclement weather. Failure to drive as safely as possible could cause you to be at fault for an accident, which could lead to liability for damages or injuries. Poor winter driving could also affect your ability to recover for your own damages. Worst case scenario, unsafe winter driving could leave you or another party seriously injured. Here are a few winter driving habits to avoid that commonly lead to accidents.
- Excessive speeding. Speeding is always a dangerous driving habit, but it can be excessively dangerous on icy or snowy roads. Many states have a basic speed law, in addition to posted speed limits, that require drivers to reduce speed in inclement weather. These speed laws may not be posted, meaning even if you are driving at or under the posted speed limit you could still be at fault for driving with “excessive speed,” if you speed was unsafe in relation to the weather and road conditions.
- Following too closely. Following the car ahead of you too closely during poor road and weather conditions is especially dangerous. If the roads are wet or icy, stopping distances can increase a great deal. You may need a lot more space between you and the car in front of you in order to stop on time. Failure to allow enough stopping distance can result in a rear-end collision.
- Failure to use chains or snow tires. A driver traveling in inclement weather should utilize a variety of tools, including an ice scraper and chains if you are in a mountainous area. Snow tires or chains can be extremely helpful for driving on inclines when the roads are snowy, wet, or icy. In somes states chains are required on certain roadways during weather events for vehicles that do not have four-wheel drive or snow tires.
- Obstructed windshield or headlights. Snow can decrease visibility a great deal. Though decreased visibility is inevitable up to a point, you are still responsible for clearing ice, snow, mud, and other obstructions from your windshield, headlights, and taillights as best as you can. Be sure to purchase an ice scraper for icy windshields. You should also have your windshield wipers inspected to make sure they are not worn out, and have them replaced if necessary.
Driving under the influence. Regardless of the weather or time of the year, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is the most dangerous driving habit of all. If you add winter driving conditions on top of driving impaired, you have a recipe for disaster. Driving under the influence during poor road conditions can majorly increase your risk of getting into an accident. If you get into an accident while driving drunk, you could face a felony DUI charge if another person is injured or killed as a result.