Winter began with a wallop in Connecticut and throughout the Northeast. As the Hartford Courant reported, residents started the year battling snow, ice and bone-chilling cold, even as the weather prognosticators reminded us winter was just getting started.
The risks of car accident injuries increase during the winter, of course. But many are surprised such collisions are often not caused by bad weather. Instead, the weather often increases accident risks caused by the poor driving habits that far too many motorists exhibit year-round. Any discussion of being safer on the road in 2018 must begin with addressing the most common of poor driving habits: distracted driving, speeding, failure to wear a seat belt, following too closely, failure to yield, failure to obey traffic-control devices, and driving while fatigued or intoxicated.
Watch for pedestrians this winter
Pedestrians face particularly high risks, not only from ice and snow along their route, but also from the dangers of sliding traffic and reduced visibility. The Stamford Advocate reported a pedestrian was killed after being struck by a van while walking to work on January 3. While pedestrian safety is largely in the hands of motorists, walkers can improve their safety by crossing at crosswalks and paying particular attention to walk signals and other traffic-control devices, as required by Connecticut law (Section 14-300).
Never assume a driver will (or can) yield the right of way. Make eye contact with a driver and be sure the vehicle is coming to a stop before proceeding. Drivers must always yield the right of way and take other steps to avoid a serious or fatal accident. Remember, pedestrians face virtually no chance of escaping serious injury if struck by a motor vehicle.
Winter accidents in Fairfield and statewide
When it comes to winter driving, Connecticut motorists face some of the toughest conditions in the nation. In fact, Connecticut has been the snowiest place in the nation outside Alaska over the past 20 years, with an average of more than 40 inches of snowfall each year. Drivers can take specific steps to reduce the risks of winter driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Safe driving tips include:
- Have your car properly serviced. This includes making sure you have appropriate winter-weather tires. A winter storm is not the time to be felled by routine maintenance issues.
- Take the time to remove ice and snow from windows, headlights and taillights. This not only increases your visibility, but also makes it easier for other motorists to see you and makes it less likely an accident or injury will be caused by flying ice or snow.
- Check your owner's manual to familiarize yourself with your vehicle's features, including anti-lock brakes and traction control, which may impact how your vehicle handles in ice or snow.
- Consider carrying emergency supplies in your trunk, including gloves, a broom and ice scraper, flashlight, jumper cables, a blanket and some abrasive material, such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the the snow.
- Plan your route and be mindful of the weather. Always travel with plenty of gas and a fully charged cell phone.
In the event of a winter weather collision, don't hesitate to consult with an experienced Connecticut auto accident attorney who can answer your questions and discuss further options.