As predicted, the first major snowstorm to hit the Salt Lake City region brought a rain-snow mix that made the commute an extra hassle for area drivers. The storm, which struck the Friday morning before the Thanksgiving holiday, also fulfilled the routine predictions of traffic experts: drivers who were unprepared for winter driving conditions got into many more crashes than on a normal driving day.
By late morning, the number of motor vehicle crashes was double that of a normal Friday morning. Wind advisories were posted in some areas, and the avalanche risk was upgraded in others. The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) issued restrictions on some highways, while the Wyoming Department of Transportation chose to close some roads on its side of the border.
Safety officials took the arrival of this first storm as an opportunity to remind drivers to be more careful in poor weather conditions. After the warm-weather months, even the most cautious drivers sometimes fail to adjust once winter arrives and snow and ice once again become common hazards.
UDOT officials suggested several steps drivers can take both before and after a crash to increase safety. First, when the road is wet with rain or snow, slow down. Slick roads make it more difficult to stop and require longer braking times. Hydroplaning also becomes a risk.
The reduced visibility brought by rain and snow also make it more difficult to see what’s ahead, and slowing down helps counter that risk. So does turning on your headlights—don’t forget that it’s part of our state driving code that your headlights must be on when visibility is less than 1,000 feet.
When you’ve been in a bad-weather crash, you should stay in your vehicle. If you’ve spun out or slid off the road due to the conditions, so might another driver. You or your vehicle could be hit. If it’s possible, move your vehicle out of traffic for your own safety and that of other motorists.
Keep in mind that, while many car accidents happen in bad weather, they’re not all caused by bad weather. Car crashes happen because drivers don’t take appropriate precautions for the current conditions. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that the weather is the primary cause in only about 2 percent of crashes—but in about 94 percent of cases, a driver’s decision was the most important factor.
When you’ve been hurt in a crash caused by another driver, don’t accept that it was an accident caused by the weather. Most likely, it could have been avoided. Get in touch with the team at Craig Swapp & Associates.
We have years of experience with all aspects of automobile accident law, and we offer clients a free consultation to go over the details of their unique case. Call 1-800-404-9000 or complete the form below to schedule an appointment.