A snowstorm can bring a commute to a crawl, and, in your rush to get to where you want to go, you may only clear off some of the snow or ice on the windshield, back window and front windows. Doing so may save you a couple minutes, but not fully clearing off your car could result in an accident that costs you a lot more time and money and may result in an injury.
Each year 24% of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, and 15% percent happen during snowfall or sleet, according to the federal Department of Transportation. The agency reports these annual statistics:
- Every year, more than 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy or icy pavement.
- Nearly 900 people are killed and nearly 76,000 people are injured in vehicle crashes during snowfall or sleet.
New Jersey drivers can get fines ranging from $75 to $2,000 if their cars are not properly cleared of snow. Higher fines are issued when the failure to clear the vehicle results in an accident. Snow and ice on vehicles pose two potential hazards: it causes limited visibility for you and, if it comes while you’re driving, it may distract or blind other drivers.
To be a safe driver you need to be able to see all around your vehicle. You should start at the top and clear off snow that could fly off while you’re driving and potentially be a hazard for others. All your windows should be cleared so you can see what’s around you and safely change lanes. Tail lights should be cleared so others can see your signal lights. Headlights and front signal lights also need to be cleared.
It boils down to common courtesy to other drivers and common sense for your own safety. It takes a little longer to completely clear your car, but it will make you much safer in traffic. Cleared vehicles were especially an issue in late January’s blizzard, in which state police responded to more than 300 accidents and more than 1,600 vehicles became stuck or had difficulty travelling, according to NJ.com.
Bad winter weather conditions may lead to more accidents, but that doesn’t mean that the road conditions are always to blame. As far as the law is concerned, liability for accidents isn’t suspended when winter weather turns bad. If your vehicle is struck by another vehicle that wasn’t properly cleared off, obstructing the driver’s view, or if that vehicle was travelling too fast for conditions, those are grounds for negligence claims.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident this winter due to the negligence of another driver, call the Law Offices of James C. DeZao at (973) 358-6134 or fill out our contact form so we can talk about the accident, how the law may apply and how you may be able to collect compensation for your injuries.