The 2013-2014 winter has already been the most brutal in recent memory, with no respite yet in sight. The Northeast has been repeatedly battered with snow and unusually frigid temperatures. In Massachusetts, one of the most heavily affected states, the poor driving conditions pervasive throughout this winter can be a significant contributor to motor vehicle accidents.
Drivers should be prepared to meet winter challenges
For the current winter, the Golden Snow Globe, a website that gathers snowfall data for cities with populations of 100,000 or more, ranked Worcester, Massachusetts the seventh snowiest city in the country as of February 25. With 80.6 inches of snow, Worcester has nearly doubled its yearly average snowfall to February 25 of 48.4 inches. Quincy, Framingham and many other cities in the area have already exhausted their snow removal budgets for this year. Unsurprisingly, the Massachusetts State Police has reported a rash of motor vehicle accidents, although official crash statistics have not yet been compiled.
This harsh winter naturally conjures up images of cars spinning out of control, sliding through intersections and slamming into other vehicles. While winter driving does present many challenges, particularly in a year of extreme cold and heavy precipitation, the onus is still on drivers to behave safely given the conditions.
Preparation is one key to safe winter driving. This means careful vehicle maintenance: ensuring that tire treads are not overly worn, replacing old wiper blades, topping up windshield washer fluid and fixing vehicle defrosters that are not in proper working order. Vehicle issues that could further impair visibility in winter driving conditions are particularly important in preventing truck accidents, as the large size of commercial freight vehicles already puts their operators at a disadvantage in terms of visibility.
The other part of the equation for safe winter driving is properly responding to hazardous conditions. When there is snow or ice on the road, the distance required to stop can increase substantially; allowing sufficient space between vehicles seems like an obvious requirement in the winter, but even so, many drivers misjudge how long stopping will take or ignore this most basic winter driving rule. Of course, drivers should never exacerbate the danger on potentially slick roads by speeding.
It is important for drivers to know their own vehicles, for instance, realizing that constant, steady pressure should be applied when braking on a snowy or icy road for vehicles with anti-lock brakes, whereas in vehicles with standard brakes, pumping the brakes is more effective, as constant pressure could cause the wheels to lock up and slide. Some winter driving techniques are applicable to all automobiles, like steering in the direction that the front wheels should go: if the rear wheels are sliding right, the driver should steer - gently - to the right; if the rear wheels are sliding left, the driver should ease the wheel left.
Address harm caused in a winter car crash by contacting a Massachusetts attorney
This winter has presented many unique challenges for Massachusetts motorists. Yet, even in poor conditions, drivers are responsible to be stewards of safety on the road, and a driver who causes an accident - or more commonly, his or her insurer - can be held financially responsible for resulting harm.
If you have been injured in a Massachusetts car crash this winter, or if you have lost a family member, getting in touch with an experienced car accident attorney is the best way to ensure you recover the full compensation you are entitled to. Contact a Massachusetts personal injury attorney today about your car accident case.