Washington Winter Weather Car Accident Attorneys Discuss: How to Drive Safely in Cold Conditions

With the holidays fast approaching, Washington residents know the mercury will continue to drop and the cold, frosty weather is here to stay for the remainder of the winter season. Aside from demanding people wear extra layers, winter in Washington can be one of the most fun times of year, with plenty of recreational sports and seasonal activities for people young and old to enjoy. Winter in the Evergreen State, however, also means motorists will face unique hazards as they commute and travel on the roads and freeways.

As such, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers drivers the three P's of safe winter driving: Prepare, Protect, and Prevent.

  1. Prepare. Driving in cold weather requires skill and practice, so consider practicing cold weather maneuvers slowly on ice or snow in an empty lot during the daytime. Preparation before a road trip is crucial, so perform any necessary maintenance on your vehicle such as checking your antifreeze, battery, and tire tread. Also, for a longer journey, plan your route and be familiar with directions and maps, and allow for extra travel time. A final step is to prepare a motorist safety kit with things like a flashlight, jumper cables, blankets, warning devices, and an ice scraper. For long trips, consider bringing food and water.
  2. Protect. Protecting yourself and your passengers is a crucial step in preventing injuries in an accident. Always wear your safety belt and have others do the same. Proper use of child safety seats is essential so make sure your child is secure, and never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of an airbag. Also, children 12 and under are safer in the backseat.
  3. Prevent. An important means of preventing auto accidents is to not drive drowsy: avoid fatigue by getting plenty of rest before a trip. In addition, stop every three hours and rotate drivers if possible. With winter road conditions being especially hazardous, drive slowly and increase your distance when behind vehicles to prevent a crash on icy, snowy roads. Washington drivers should never drive impaired, so if you do plan to drink, designate a sober driver. Lastly, always keep your eyes open for pedestrians.

Winter Car Safety

Try to get your car checked out by a trusted mechanic before winter season even comes around. The inspection should include your battery, brakes, heater, defroster, thermostat, and antifreeze level. Additionally, make sure that your lights function well and that your tires have good tread, and replace them if necessary. Lastly, consider getting winter wiper blades and replacing the wiper fluid. You’ll have a much easier time driving with windshield blades that can cut through ice and snow, and with fluid that doesn’t freeze up.

As always, pay attention to the road. If you do get into a skid, remain calm and firmly press the brake pedal if your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system, or pump the brakes if not. Head into areas of traction, and if you end up going off the road, try to steer your vehicle towards things that will cause the least amount of damage.

Winter Bicycle Safety

Winter accidents don’t just happen with cars - they can happen just as easily with bicycles. Of course there are people who wouldn’t even dream of riding their bicycles in winter; but few of them live in Seattle. In this city, people are dedicated to bettering their health, helping their environment, and just being active, no matter the weather. And when those enthusiasts decide to take their bikes out in snowy, icy, or stormy weather, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Remember, those bike lanes so many people enjoy in the warmer months will likely be reserved for snowbank storage until spring. This will force cyclists to be in the right-hand land of the road where cars travel, so realize that you’re going to be much closer to vehicles.
  • Because bicycles are much lighter than cars, the smallest piece of ice can cause a rider to lose control and crash. Bicyclists who want to pursue their passion in the winter months should get tires that have thick tread and can better handle the conditions the road may have in store for them.

Winter Pedestrian Safety

People not only have to slosh through the snow and ice that cars do, but being completely exposed, they do not have safety features such as air bags and a heavy steel frame around them. As it gets darker earlier in the day, motorists will have a harder time seeing pedestrians, so if you’re out walking, wear bright or reflective colors. When you’re at a crosswalk, take your time to notice the ground around you. If the area is slippery, it’ll be harder for a car to stop, so make sure drivers see you and come to a complete stop before you cross.

Winter Motorcycle Safety

Motorcyclists who choose to ride in winter have one added danger that other drivers do not: the cold. Hypothermia is a real danger, and the cold can also be very distracting. Everyone has been so cold it’s all they can think about. And when a person is on a motorcycle going very fast, that cold and wind chill become even more intense. It’s essential for motorcyclists to dress warmly to keep themselves from getting sick or distracted on the road.

Winter Bus Safety

Many people think that taking a bus or other public transportation is one of the safest ways to get around; and it can be. But a bus driver is facing all of the same winter weather hazards as any other driver. And people who ride the bus are at risk of injury if the bus gets into an accident, especially since public buses rarely have seat belts. To minimize your risk, never stand while taking public transportation. If the bus or train is crowded with no seats left, it’s much better to wait for the next one. When a person is standing, he can easily fall, slip, or slide if the bus jolts. This can lead to much worse injuries than if the person had been seated.

While waiting for that next bus, remember to stand back from traffic. If there is a bus shelter, it’s wise to sit or stand in it while waiting. Not only will it be more visible to traffic, but it will also keep you warmer while you wait.

How Our Seattle WA Winter Weather Car Accident Lawyers Can Help

No matter the season, a vehicle accident can be extremely traumatic for anyone involved. Repairing property damage, paying medical expenses and bills, and recovering from any physical injuries can make getting back on your feet and back on the road after a collision very challenging. The Seattle winter weather truck accident lawyers of Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., understand the obstacles you face as you recover and will work diligently to get you the compensation you need from any at-fault parties. For free consultation on your accident case, call (888) 228-3860.

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Written by Joseph Pendergast, this book is designed to help people who have suffered a personal injury understand their rights and the steps to take to be sure they get the compensation they deserve.

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