Do Connecticut Drivers Need to Worry About Multi-Car Accidents This Winter?
Connecticut residents know how dangerous the roads are in winter. If anyone needs a reminder, all you’d have to do is look back at the accident on Interstate 91 last year.
Twenty-five vehicles (four of them tractor-trailers) were involved in the collision, which took place on I-91 South in Middletown. The fuel tanks of two of the trucks burst, spilling gasoline on the highway. About 30 people were forced to go to the hospital. Fortunately, no one was killed. It is the perfect example of how quickly things can go wrong in inclement weather.
Connecticut and its surrounding states have some of the worst road conditions in the United States every winter. Not only a great deal of snow, but also freezing rain, extreme cold, ice, and high winds. Surprisingly, many local drivers have a flippant attitude. They claim that they are used to such conditions, and thus do not drive with the appropriate caution. Making matters worse, we also see a number of out-of-town visitors from warmer states, especially during holiday time, who may not be prepared for winter hazards.
What Causes Most Winter Accidents?
All drivers should understand that they have an increased duty of care when the weather is bad. Driving at the speed limit or passing slower cars by switching lanes is not appropriate during heavy snowfall or when the roads are icy. If a driver fails to drive for the conditions and hits someone else, he or she could be found responsible for the accident.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 1,300 people are killed and 116,800 people are injured every year in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement. More than two-thirds of the crashes occur during snowfall or sleet.
Accidents happen for many reasons. When the roads are slick, stopping suddenly is nearly impossible. Drivers need to gradually slow down and lightly brake as necessary. If your car starts to swerve, don’t aggressively compensate by jerking the wheel in the other direction. During heavy storms, it’s a good idea to get snow chains for your car. Chains are allowed in Connecticut between November 15 and April 30, as long as they aren’t damaging the road surface.
It always pays to be cautious, and this is especially true when driving in bad winter conditions. In addition to the above, it is wise to get your car fully tuned-up before the severe weather hits. Make sure your tires are inflated all the way, keep your gas tank at least half full, and top off all fluids, such as oil and antifreeze. You should never use cruise control when driving on roads that may have hidden ice or slick spots. And make sure you have emergency supplies in your trunk, including warm blankets and flares.
If you are the victim of a traffic accident in severe weather and you discover that the other driver did not take these sensible precautions, that could be a sign of negligence on his or her part. And where there’s negligence, valid legal claims can be filed.
Can the Government Be Found Responsible For a Winter Accident?
Drivers are not the only parties responsible for maintaining road safety during bad weather. Municipal and state governments also work to ensure our safety during the winter months, and a failure to act responsibly on their part could have grave consequences.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by severe weather, the following third parties could be found to have acted negligently:
- The state or local agency responsible for maintaining the roads, whether with snow plows, salt, warnings, etc.;
- The company that employs the driver who hit you, who failed to cease operations during the bad weather;
- The parts manufacturer that made a faulty or defective product for your vehicle, causing or contributing to the accident;
- The maintenance company that failed to properly maintain or repair your vehicle.
Winter driving is no joke. Serious accidents are much more likely during bad Connecticut weather, and we all have a part to play in keeping our roads and highways safe this winter, whether by driving safely, keeping the pavement snow and ice-free, or maintaining the cars we drive.
If you believe that you have been the victim of someone else’s negligence, speak to Naizby Law. We know Connecticut weather very well, and will tell you if you have a valid claim. Our car accident attorneys can be reached for a free consultation at (203) 245-8500.
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For over 20 years, John has exclusively represented people (not corporations).
John has received the America’s Top 100 Attorneys Lifetime Achievement Award.
Since the year 2000, John has been a Board Certified Civil Lawyer.
John is a graduate and senior instructor at the Trial Lawyers College.