Winter Weather Raises Car Accident Risks

Winter weather is a major hazard to motorists in Pittsburgh. Snow, sleet and ice create dangerous conditions for drivers, and according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Pennsylvania ranks among the five deadliest states for winter car accidents.

On average, an estimated 5,000 Americans are killed in weather-related traffic collisions each year. Of these, an average of 800 car wreck fatalities are attributed to sleet, snow, freezing rain or ice, according to recent transportation statistics from the NHTSA. Snow squalls and blizzards often create instantaneous white-out conditions, which sets the stage for catastrophic multivehicle pile-ups.

While most Pittsburgh residents consider icy roads a normal part of winter driving, what happens when adverse conditions play a role in your accident? How is liability determined?

Snowy weather raises risk of Pittsburgh auto accidents

Snow and ice wreak havoc on roads and highways throughout Pittsburgh, reducing visibility, and can slow traffic flow considerably. Just last month, firefighters responded to a head-on car crash in White Oak, where a slick coating of ice caused two drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Both motorists were taken to area hospitals for injuries after their cars collided on McKee Road.

How do insurance companies establish liability in snow or winter weather car crashes in Pittsburgh? Regardless if rain or snow, drivers have a duty to drive safely and responsibly. When venturing out during inclement weather, motorists are expected to not only know the risks, but to adjust their driving accordingly. This means taking proactive measures to avoid accidents with other vehicles or objects.

During snow storms, or other types of wintry weather, motorists are expected to exercise caution by:

  • Reducing speed
  • Allowing ample space between vehicles
  • Driving defensively at all times
  • Allowing extra time to arrive at their destination
  • Adjusting braking distance to factor in increased stopping time
  • Ensuring tires are in good condition
  • Using snow chains when necessary
  • Making sure turn signals, brake lights, and head lights are visible and functioning

Determining liability in winter weather crashes

If it is found that a driver failed to exercise reasonable care or take preventive actions that would lower their accident risk during bad weather, they could be found at least partially at fault. The same laws of negligence apply here as in any type of accident. Investigators will look at a number of factors to assess culpability: your speed at the time of incident, whether you were following too closely to another vehicle or whether you slammed on your brakes. In other words, winter weather hazards do not clear drivers of liability.

However, if evidence points to the reckless actions of another driver, you may be able to pursue a claim for legal compensation. If you suffered injuries in a car accident caused by a negligent or distracted driver, the Pittsburgh law firm of Chaffin Luhana is poised to help.

Protect your rights to compensation

Our experienced attorneys and legal team have assisted car accident victims for years, achieving outstanding results for our clients. Reach out to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with Chaffin Luhana today.

Additional Resources:

  1. CBS Local Pittsburg, Firefighters: Icy Conditions May Have Caused Head-On Crash In White Oak
  2. Pennsylvania State Legislature, Pa. Consol. Stat. § § 5524. Two year limitation
  3. US Department of Transportation, How Do Weather Events Impact Roads?
  4. USA Today, Winter car accidents are a deadly weather hazard