It’s that time of year again — winter driving season. After examining data collected by the Auto Insurance Center and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, USA Today concludes that Wisconsin drivers have an average of 40 more fatal accidents each winter than they do at other times of the year.
While not all accidents result in fatalities, even a minor accident during a winter storm can be a big deal for Wisconsin drivers. The state’s tort law says you cannot blame the weather as a factor in causing a crash. Instead, the court will assign proportionate responsibility, or liability, to each driver involved.
The best way to avoid ending up in a winter car accident is to practice safe driving.
Make sure to maintain your car in good working order, with functioning a functioning defrost system and windshield wipers. If you use snow tires, install them at the beginning of the season so that you’re not caught off guard by the first heavy snowfall.
Never leave your driveway without carefully removing the snow and ice from windows and the top of the hood. Everyone in the car, not just those riding in the front, should have their seatbelt buckled.
Before you set out, check 511WI to get the latest updates about weather conditions and road closures.
Go Slow and Steady
On snow and ice, your car won’t have as much traction, so your best defense against having to brake suddenly–which could cause you to lose control–is to drive slowly and keep a greater distance than you normally would between yourself and the vehicle ahead. Never use cruise control when driving in winter weather conditions.
When approaching a hill, don’t accelerate suddenly, as you could spin out of control. Likewise, never stop on a hill if you can help it. The extra acceleration needed to move forward could cause you to lose traction.
Be extra cautious when approaching and passing trucks, which can shed snow and ice directly on to your vehicle. Likewise, stay at least 200 feet behind snowplows and be aware that they generate a field of snow mist that reduces visibility greatly when you go to pass them.
Keep in mind that bridges and overpasses freeze before other road surfaces and use extra caution when driving over them.
Wisconsin state law mandates that driver use their low beams whenever weather conditions make it hard to see objects 500 feet ahead. Your headlights will also make it easier for other vehicles to see and steer clear of you.
Have You Run Afoul of the Winter Weather?
At Gingras, Cates, and Wachs, we know how frustrating it is to drive on winter roads. We also know how to fight aggressively for your rights. If you’ve been in a winter accident, contact us to learn if we can assist you.