Cleveland car accident lawyer explains what drivers need to know
Car accidents often occur during the winter, especially in northern states where hazardous winter weather is common. Whether it’s snow, sleet, ice, drifting snow or freezing rain, roads and highways can suddenly become dangerous and nearly impassable.
And while such accidents can happen nearly anywhere during the winter, certain states are more dangerous than others. If you live and drive in Ohio, you will likely not be surprised to learn that it’s the fourth-deadliest state in the country when it comes to weather-related winter accidents.
Between 2013 and 2017, Ohio had the fourth-highest number of winter-driving fatalities, according to a study conducted by ValuePenguin. During that time period, a total of 172 people died in winter-related car accidents in Ohio.
The study also found that certain cities and highways in Ohio are more dangerous than others during the winter. Several of these highways are located in or around Cleveland. This includes I-71 (which had seven winter-related fatalities) and I-80 (which had six winter-related fatalities).
What causes winter driving accidents?
Car accidents often occur during winter because another driver behaves in a reckless or negligent manner. This includes:
- Speeding during hazardous weather conditions like a snowstorm or ice storm.
- Not paying attention while driving, including texting while driving or looking up directions.
- Following the driver in front too close, which can result in a rear-end accident if the front driver slows down or has to stop suddenly due to hazardous winter conditions. Remember that vehicles have a longer stopping distance when the road is slippery.
- Not being able to see out the windshield due to ice or snow. This is often due to drivers not properly cleaning their windshield before driving or allowing snow or ice to build up on the windshield due to defective windshield wipers or windshield wiper fluid freezing on the windshield.
- Poor traction or tires spinning out of control due to bald or worn tires, which can be extremely dangerous on ice or snow.
- Reckless drivers ignoring traffic laws, including illegally passing other vehicles such as snowplows. When this happens, reckless drivers often cause head-on crashes or other serious collisions.
Drivers always have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely, and that goes double in inclement weather. When hazardous weather strikes in winter, drivers need to be prepared and share the road responsibly with other drivers.
What can drivers do to prevent winter accidents?
There are many steps drivers can take before driving to avoid causing or being involved in a winter-related car accident. Such preventative measures include:
- Make sure your tires have a thick tread that can handle snowy or icy conditions. Consider getting snow tires if you have to frequently drive during hazardous winter conditions.
- Put winterized windshield washer fluid in your car. De-icer windshield washer fluid in particular will not freeze on your windshield.
- Make sure your wiper blades are working. Consider getting winter wiper blades specifically designed for winter weather.
- Make sure your wheel wells are clear and there’s no snow buildup inside them before driving.
Most importantly, if you don’t have to drive during hazardous winter weather, consider staying home.
Other winter safety steps you can take on the road
If you do have to drive during hazardous winter weather, take the following steps once you're on the road:
- Leave early and give yourself extra time so you can go slow.
- When going below the speed limit, put on your flashers and stay out of the passing lane on highways.
- If you can safely do so, follow a snowplow on the road at a safe distance with your flashers on.
These are just some of the steps drivers can take to hopefully avoid a winter car accident. Unfortunately, accidents can happen to even the safest drivers. And when they do, injured drivers need to make sure they fully understand their rights and the legal options available to them.
How can a lawyer help me?
You might think you don’t need an attorney if another driver clearly caused your winter accident. Unfortunately, many auto accidents turn into complicated legal cases. The driver who caused your crash might deny doing anything wrong. Other times, it’s their insurance company that’s the problem. Because there’s often so much money at stake, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will often do everything they can to reduce or deny your injury claim.
They don’t intimidate us. That’s because our experienced Cleveland car accident attorneys at Merriman Legal, LLC know how to handle such challenging cases. Nationally renowned attorney Tom Merriman and his talented legal team have the knowledge and the skills you need to build a strong legal case. This starts with an in-depth investigation. We know what evidence to look for and what questions to ask. We then use that information when dealing with insurance companies.
Some law firms back down from tough legal cases. We rise to the challenge. Discover what we can do for you. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case evaluation with a Cleveland car accident lawyer you can count on when it matters most. We’re conveniently located on West 9th Street in Cleveland.