According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 17 percent of all traffic-related accidents in the United States occur in winter weather conditions. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) estimates that, on average, more than 1,300 individuals die each year in motor vehicle accidents that occur on slushy, snowy, or icy roadways, while an average of more than 116,800 people are injured.
Below, we’ll discuss how accidents occur on icy roadways, what to do if you are injured in an accident, and how to drive in winter weather conditions safely.
How Accidents Happen on Icy Roads
Icy roads are a common cause of car accidents in the winter months. When you drive on ice, your vehicle can lose tire traction due to a lack of friction between your vehicle’s tires and the ice-covered roadway or bridge. Tires have even less traction on icy roads than when driving in rainy or snowy conditions.
Due to the slippery nature of icy roads, your vehicle could fishtail or spin out of control even at low speeds, but traveling at high speeds, even if you are technically traveling under the speed limit, significantly increases your chance of being involved in an accident.
Motorists driving on icy roads also require more time and distance to bring their vehicles safely to a stop. If you are following another vehicle too closely and that car suddenly swerves out of control, you could end up colliding with the other driver. Rapid acceleration and deceleration can also cause your vehicle to lose traction and veer into other lanes of traffic.
Driver negligence is usually a contributing factor in car accidents on icy roads. When drivers get distracted, drive too fast, make unsafe lane changes, or tailgate other motorists on slippery roads, they can cause accidents that result in devastating injuries and catastrophic vehicle damage.
What To Do if You Are Injured on an Icy Road
Even though most residents are familiar with the dangers of driving in inclement weather, car accidents commonly occur on icy roads during the winter months on Long Island. If you were involved in a car accident on an icy roadway, follow these steps after the accident:
- Call 911 – If possible, you should slowly and carefully pull off the road to a safe location and call law enforcement to the scene. Police officers will create an accident report that contains descriptions of your injuries, the damage to each vehicle, each driver’s contact and insurance details, witness contact information, and other pertinent details. You will need to obtain a copy of this report once it is available.
- Seek medical care – You should be evaluated by a medical professional immediately after the accident, even if you only suffered minor injuries. Some injuries do not show themselves for days, weeks, or even months after an accident, but a physician will be able to detect them before you experience complications. If you put off visiting a doctor, it could endanger your insurance claim.
- Report the accident to the DMV – If the accident resulted in injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage, you are required to report it to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days.
- Report the accident to your insurance company – Contact your insurance company and let them know what transpired. Your personal injury protection (PIP) policy should cover your medical expenses and lost income up to your policy limits if you are injured.
If you were seriously injured in the accident, you might be able to bring a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver. You should speak with a seasoned Long Island car accident lawyer to evaluate your options for financial relief.
Tips for Driving on Icy Roads
If possible, you should avoid driving on icy roads and only go out if necessary. If you must travel, consider following these safety tips to protect yourself and your passengers:
- Prepare your vehicle – Have your vehicle regularly inspected and maintained throughout the year. You should watch for issues with your car’s battery and other systems that are routinely exposed to colder weather. Keep your windows and windshield clear of ice and snow. If you plan to use snow tires, you should install them before the first snow of the year.
- Drive below the speed limit – Regardless of the posted speed limit, you may need to adjust your speed to account for icy conditions. Driving too fast for conditions can lead to an accident.
- Slowly increase and decrease your speed – Avoid rapid acceleration or deceleration. If you speed up or slow down on an icy road, your vehicle might skid and cause an accident. Be especially careful as you approach intersections of stoplights, and give yourself plenty of time to brake.
- Increase following distance – Motorists are generally encouraged to follow a three-second rule when following other vehicles. That is, you should always leave at least “three seconds” of space between yourself and the car in front of you. You should increase this distance to 5-6 seconds on icy roads.
- Avoid bridges as much as possible – Bridges do not hold heat because cold air passes beneath them. As a result, bridges can freeze far more quickly than roads. If possible, choose the route that avoids bridges if possible. If you must cross a bridge, drive slowly and be extra cautious until you reach the other side.
- Don’t get distracted – Remain vigilant at all times. Before you head out, check the weather so that you’re aware of any hazardous conditions. While you’re behind the wheel, don’t allow yourself to get distracted by activities like texting, talking on the phone, toying with the radio, eating and drinking, personal grooming, or other distractions.
- Wear a seatbelt – Use a seatbelt at all times while driving on icy roads. If you are involved in an accident, wearing a seatbelt will offer you some protection from the force of the collision.
For more winter driving safety advice, check out the NHTSA’s list of tips.
Contact Finz & Finz, P.C. Today
Were you injured in an icy road accident on Long Island? If so, you might be entitled to recover compensation for your losses. Our Long Island car accident lawyers will be ready to assist you right away.
Our attorneys have the knowledge and resources to thoroughly investigate the accident, collect evidence to support your case, document the damages you suffered, and aggressively seek compensation on your behalf. Call us at 855-TOP-FIRM for a free consultation.