Adjusting Your Driving to Fall and Winter Weather Conditions

Safety car overtaking on highway. Motion blur visualizies the speed and dynamics.

As we get ready to turn our clocks back this fall, we might also want to think about dialing back the speedometer. As fall and winter weather conditions approach, drivers need to be conscious of the impact on driving conditions and the adjustments necessary to remain safe on the road. According to the Federal Highway Administration, each year 22 percent of all vehicle crashes, 19 percent of injuries and 16 percent of fatalities are weather related. The FHA points out several “road weather variables” that motorists need to account for:

  • Wind speed — High winds can impact road conditions by blowing snow and debris that diminishes visibility and causes lane obstructions. Wind can also interfere with vehicle stability, especially for lighter cars and motorcycles, and tractor-trailers that catch cross winds. Motorists should reduce speed due to increased accident risk.
  • Precipitation — Rain, sleet, and snow can reduce roadway capacity, traction, and visibility. Drivers must reduce speed and avoid driving in conditions that could immobilize their vehicles, especially in remote areas in freezing temperatures.
  • Fog — Seriously compromised visibility greatly increases accident risk. Drivers must reduce speed and use their low beams; high beams produce glare and further reduce visibility.
  • Pavement temperature — Different surfaces freeze at different temperatures. This means a road free of snow and ice can lead directly to a bridge whose surface is completely frozen. Motorists must anticipate a change in traction and reduce speed accordingly.
  • Water level — Drivers should be prudent when deciding whether to attempt to pass over a road that is submerged by more than a couple of inches of water. Too much water can cause brakes to fail. The car can also stall, and when that happens and a driver has to abandon the vehicle, it increases risks to personal safety.

Whenever a road condition requires reduced speed for safe travel, you should plan ahead and give yourself more time to reach your destination. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to drive at a speed that seems reasonable but is unsafe for current conditions. Always bear in mind that arriving safely is your first and foremost consideration.

If you’ve been injured in a weather-related auto accident in Virginia, North Carolina or South Carolina, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban P.C. can help. Our legal team puts more than 175 years of combined experience at your service. Call us at (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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