In New York, winter brings significant accumulations of snow and ice. The
Mid-Hudson Valley region especially can receive heavy snowfall and experience
long periods of freezing weather. These factors result in prime conditions
for snow and ice to contribute to
car accidents on the roadways.
Whether the roadways are dry and clear, or snowy and icy, all drivers must
exercise a reasonable degree of care in the use and operation of their
motor vehicles. When they fail to do so and cause a motor vehicle accident,
they may be liable for any of the injuries and damages that occur.
Our experienced Kingston car accident attorneys have handled many accidents resulting from wintery conditions on the roadway
such as snow and ice. Through our experience, we have represented victims
in many different types of cases resulting from snow and ice car accidents.
While no two accidents may be the same, there are some common causes which
contribute to many car accidents.
For instance, slippery roads can create a very serious driving hazard.
Even small amounts of snow can significantly increase the likelihood of
skidding, sliding, and the time it takes to stop. This is particularly
true of black ice, which is usually very difficult to spot on the asphalt roadways.
Further, snow, sleet, freezing rain, hail, and other forms of precipitation
can obscure a driver's view both in front of him or her, on the mirrors,
or on the windshield or rear window. Conditions such as "whiteouts"
can render a driver completely blind, creating a very dangerous condition--particularly
on the highways or faster roadways.
Remember, drivers must exercise "reasonable care" in the use
and operation of their vehicles. This means in certain snowy and icy conditions,
drivers may be required by the law to drive at a speed lower than the
posted speed limit. This is particularly true in whiteout conditions,
which may require a motorist to completely stop until the snow has abated.
Motorists are obligated to keep their windows free from snow and ice which
could obscure their vision, thus forcing them to also stop in a whiteout
to wait for the duration of the squall or clear off their windshields manually.
New York law also requires drivers to ensure their motor vehicles have
working front and rear defrosters. These devices are generally factory
installed in today's cars, but if they are malfunctioning, it is necessary
to get them repaired as soon as possible. These devices help to keep drivers
safe and add another level of snow and ice melting ability to a vehicle.
Perhaps one of the most common types of motor vehicle collisions during
the winter or on snowy and icy roadways are rear-end car accidents. These
car accidents typically result from the following motorist failing to
leave enough space in-between vehicles. This may also result from the
leading vehicle stopping suddenly or short.
Regardless, New York law has placed a presumption of negligence on the
following motorist for failing to leave an adequate amount of space or
an adequate amount of time to react to stop and avoid a collision. This
standard is also flexible, and requires a motorist to use what is "reasonable
and prudent" under the surrounding circumstances. These circumstances
also consider adverse weather conditions such as snow and ice on the roadway.
Sometimes the State or municipality may be liable for a wintery car accident
caused by snow and ice. This is because the State and municipalities owe
a duty to remove dangerous conditions and make roadways safe for common
travel. While this duty does not protect an injured victim from all hazards
on the roadway, if dangerous roadway conditions were present for an extended
period of time or reported or complained about, the State or municipality
may become liable.
While there may be no way to completely alleviate all risks of driving
during the New York winter, there are some tips that can help keep you
and your loved ones safe driving on the roadways during the winter season.
This includes some of the following tips from our Kingston car accident
- Thoroughly cleaning your vehicle of snow and ice, both on the roof, windshields,
and mirrors, but also on the wiper blades;
- Maintain a steady speed and refrain from accelerating hard or braking hard;
- Drive at a comfortable speed and do not be pressured by others driving
past you quickly or piling up behind you;
- Do not turn sharply or quickly;
- Do not slam on the brakes quickly or hard;
- Take curves at a slower speed than normal;
- Avoid braking on curves;
- Avoid driving alongside other vehicles, even if the roadway is multi-laned;
- Leave extra lengths between you and the car behind you;
- Wait an extra moment at a green light for any other vehicles getting the
red light who have difficulty stopping;
- Make sure your lights are always on; and
- Always make sure to have an "out" in the snowy conditions.