Winter is an intense season for driving in Northern New Jersey, and this year has been no exception. In early January, treacherous freezing rain conditions caused hundreds of crashes between New Jersey and Westchester County, and two drivers were killed after they exited their vehicles after a crash and were struck by vehicles that lost control. Late January wasn’t much better: threatening coastal snowstorms dropped well over a foot of snow and led Governor Phil Murphy to declare a state of emergency.
As long as you stay off the road during storms like these, there is hopefully not too much to worry about, but storms can sneak up fast, leaving drivers unexpectedly stuck on the road in their vehicles: an incredibly dangerous situation. Today I want to share some life-saving tips you can use in case you find yourself in a situation like this. If you are involved in a winter car accident, remember the New Jersey car accident attorneys at Buttafuoco & Associates can offer experienced advice during a free consultation. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us with your questions.
Take Precautions Before You Drive
It’s no fun to brush, scrape, and clear your vehicle before driving, especially when you’re running late, but snow that flies from your car can cause visual obstructions and accidents. Before you take off for the day, fully clear snow and ice from your vehicle and make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone, car charger, winter emergency kit, and plenty of blankets with you.
If you’re already behind the wheel when a bad storm starts, it is essential to slow down. If you have four-wheel drive, it can be tempting to blow past other drivers, but this is not only unsafe for you, but can actually cause more accidents as it creates panic among drivers who do not have your level of traction. Nearly 5,000 people are killed each year in weather-related car accidents, so take this to heart and slow down!
Know What to do if you Skid
Skidding in snowy weather is incredibly common and dangerous. If you notice you are skidding, your impulse may be to press the gas pedal, but instead you should ease off the gas and turn your front wheels toward where you want the car to go. Many of us have anti-lock brakes, but pumping them (which may be your impulse) can cause you to skid worse. Instead, if you notice that you’re skidding while going downhill, apply slow and even pressure to the brakes while steering into the skid.
Know When to Pull Over
We all want to get home after a long day of work, but if you cannot see due to flying snow and poor visibility, be safe rather than trying to complete your trip. Slowly pull over and wait until driving conditions are safer, but avoid leaving your headlights and taillights on: this can actually confuse other drivers if visibility is poor, and lead them to follow the lights and hit you. At Buttafuoco & Associates, our car accident lawyers serving Northern New Jersey have seen far too many accidents happen because of this.
Stay Safe if You’re Stuck
If you get stuck in the snow, the best course of action is to stay in your vehicle. If you exit, you run the risk of being struck by other out-of-control cars. If you are unsure how long you could be stuck, make it a rule to run your engine for a few minutes each hour to stay warm, and use your emergency blanket. To help rescuers identify you, once snowfall stops, raise the hood of your car and tie a strip of red cloth to your antenna or door as a signal. It is also okay to leave your dome light on as it does not use much energy.
If You Get in an Accident
If someone strikes your vehicle or you hit someone else, take the usual steps and call the police as well as 911 if you are injured. Get the other driver’s insurance and contact information, but avoid being outside of your vehicle for too long for the reasons I described above. It’s also crucial to seek medical assistance as soon as possible, as your injuries must be properly and quickly documented to ensure that you are fairly compensated by your insurance company. Winter accidents can be complicated, and may also involve slips and falls, wrongful death, and a host of other legal scenarios, so working with a Northern New Jersey car accident attorney is often a good idea.
At Buttafuoco & Associates, we believe in treating each client we represent like a member of our own family. We will fight to get you the compensation you need to make the best recovery possible.
Get in touch today for a free consultation at 1-800-NOW-HURT.