NHTSA urges caution while driving this winter

Although the winter of 2012-2013 has been relatively mild so far, there is plenty of time yet for snowy and icy conditions to develop on the Colorado roadways. Therefore, when you are out and about this winter, it is important to be prepared for such conditions and to take proper precautions. Doing so will lessen the likelihood of being involved in a car accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges motorists in Colorado and nationwide to ensure that their vehicles are in good driving condition and are properly equipped for the wintery conditions. The NHTSA recommends the following safety precautions:

  • Have your battery checked to ensure that there is sufficient voltage and the connections are free from corrosion.
  • Make sure your windshield wipers and defrosters are in good working condition. Also, ensure that your windshield washer reservoir is filled with fluid that will not freeze.
  • As cold temperatures cause tire pressure to fall, make sure that your tires are inflated to the correct pressure.
  • Make sure that your vehicle has the essentials in the event that you are stranded: a snow shovel, ice scraper, jumper cables, blankets and a first aid kit.
  • During winter, always travel with a full tank of gas, as you may need the extra fuel to run the heater if you are stranded.
  • Give the car ahead of your three times the braking distance that you would give under normal conditions, giving you plenty of room to come to a full stop if the road is slippery.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings in case you are involved in a car accident and need to inform emergency services of your location.
  • If travel is not necessary during snowy or icy weather, stay home.

Winter driving and the law

Taking the proper precautions during snowy or icy conditions will significantly decrease the risk of being involved in an accident. However, no precautions can eliminate the risk entirely, especially if other drivers are engaging in negligent or reckless behavior like texting while driving or speeding. Fortunately, the law holds such drivers accountable for their actions.

Under Colorado law, all motorists have a duty to operate their vehicles in a manner that does not expose other motorists to an unreasonable risk of harm under the circumstances. During winter driving conditions, this means that motorists must be more careful to avoid harming other motorists than would be expected under optimum conditions. If a motorist fails to conform to this legal duty, they are considered negligent.

In Colorado, individuals who are injured because of a motorist’s negligence have the right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages. If you are injured by careless driver, it is wise to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and work to hold the responsible parties financially accountable.

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