This past Thanksgiving turned out to be a whiteout for many residents of South Dakota. The snowstorm that dumped roughly 6 to 12 inches of snow across the northern plains also resulted in a traffic fatality, according to CNBC.
We're just beginning the winter season and can expect more rounds of snow until the spring of next year. On average, Sioux Falls receives more than 44 inches of snow each year.
Common Winter Weather Hazards for Drivers
A video by the Weather Channel discusses the most common winter weather hazards that can be a factor in a crash, including:
- Poor visibility. Snowfall can significantly impact visibility. Here are the figures:
- At 1" per hour, visibility may be reduced to 1 mile or less
- At 2" per hour, visibility may be reduced to less than a quarter of a mile
- During whiteout conditions (heavy snow and wind), drivers have almost no visibility
- Slippery road conditions. A car traveling at 50 mph would require 1,000 ft to come to a complete stop during icy conditions. Furthermore, national statistics show that more than 1,300 road deaths and 116,800 injuries occur each year in the United States on roads covered with snow, slush, and ice.
How Drivers Can Prepare for the Winter
During the winter months, Sioux Falls drivers will need to plan ahead and give themselves extra time. An article in Business Insider discusses ways drivers can prevent crashes and stay safe, including:
- Traveling at a speed that is safe and prudent for conditions. Driving too fast can result in spinouts, loss of vehicle control, and collisions with other cars. Driving too slow can create a swerving risk for other drivers or result in a rear-end collision.
- Ensuring that vehicles are properly maintained. Tires should have adequate tread in order to handle slippery road conditions. Wiper blades should be in good condition, and wiper fluid reservoirs should be full. Snow, ice, and frost should be cleared from windshields, windows, and headlights.
- Handling the conditions. Drivers should never stop during slippery road conditions unless it's absolutely critical to do so. Stopping can be especially dangerous on hills where it may be difficult to accelerate. When spinouts occur, drivers should be prepared to turn in the safest direction possible—away from other cars or objects.
- Testing the conditions. Drives who are unsure how safe it may be to drive during winter weather conditions should first get a feel for it in an area they are familiar with. This could include their own neighborhood, place of employment, or an area with low traffic.
- Stocking up on safety supplies. In the event of a crash or a breakdown, drivers should be prepared with a safety kit. This should include blankets, extra jackets, food, water, tools, and reflectors.
What Are My Legal Options If I Was Injured in a Winter Weather Crash?
We can only blame winter crashes on the weather conditions to an extent. Most crashes occur this time of year when drivers fail to travel at a reasonable speed or drive safely during snowy or icy conditions. If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash caused by another driver's careless behavior, the car accident attorneys at Northern Plains Justice, LLP can help.
Our legal team has built a reputation for taking on negligent drivers and the insurance companies. We have nearly three decades of results to prove it. To find out how we can help you, contact us online, and schedule your free consultation.