Each year, more than 1.5 million highway crashes can be attributed to poor weather conditions, resulting in more than 800,000 injuries and 7,000 fatalities, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Sadly, the majority of these crashes may have been prevented if drivers had exercised reasonable caution when driving in adverse weather conditions. Most New Jersey drivers are familiar with the treacherous road conditions that come with winter storms, but weather-related car accidents can occur year-round.
Often a factor in multi-vehicle crashes during the winter, slick roads caused by ice and show can make for especially hazardous driving conditions. Black ice, in particular, can be extremely dangerous because it is nearly impossible to detect. It is always best to stay off the roads during a snow or ice storm, but when driving is unavoidable, drive much slower than the posted speed limit and increase the distance between you and other cars on the road.
Tires have less traction on wet surfaces, which can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle – especially when navigating turns. The majority of fatal car accidents that occur in these conditions are single- or two-car crashes. Because speeding causes car accidents, it makes sense to increase your braking distance and reduce driving speed when driving in wet conditions.
Hydroplaning is another hazard of wet roads. This occurs when a tire encounters more water than it can scatter, causing it to skim across the surface of the puddle. The result is a loss of steering, braking, and power control. Keep tires properly maintained to help reduce the chance of hydroplaning. When driving on wet roads, lower your speed and avoid the outer lanes of the road, where water collects.
Fog is one of the most dangerous driving conditions. Reduced visibility and limited contrast caused by dispersal of light can distort driver perception of surrounding cars and objects. It is easy to misjudge your own speed or the speed of other vehicles, or even if an object is moving or stationary. Distance can also be difficult to judge, even in light fog. If you encounter fog you should use your low beams, never high; reduce your speed; and allow for greater distance between you and the car you are following. If it is safe to do so, pull off the road until the fog clears.
Wind rarely blows steadily, and strong gusts can catch any driver off guard, especially in high-profile vehicles or trucks, or very light vehicles, such as motorcycles. Keep both hands on the wheel when driving in windy weather, especially when crossing bridges or when overtaking high-sided vehicles. Reducing your speed can help you to maintain control and avoid drifting out of the lane if struck by a strong gust.
Another hazard of windy weather is the debris that often makes its way onto the roads. Downed tree limbs and wires, rolling trash cans, and other flying debris create dangerous obstacles for drivers to navigate. Stay alert and keep a wide distance between yourself and the car you are following.
All drivers have a duty to act with reasonable care when driving in adverse weather conditions. Failure to do so may be considered negligence. Negligence refers to a driver’s thoughtless or careless actions that result in harm to another.
Speed limits are designed to be used in perfect driving conditions. In situations where weather conditions would make a reasonable person adjust his or her driving, whether by driving more slowly or by keeping a farther distance between vehicles, failure to do so could be considered a negligent act by the driver.
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident that occurred in poor weather conditions due to the negligence of another, New Jersey car accident lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy are here to help. You may be entitled to compensation to help pay for medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation, and other losses. Call today at 732-777-0100 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with one of our knowledgeable and experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyers at an office nearest you. Our locations include Edison, Red Bank and Toms River, New Jersey.