For a large portion of the country, winter means more than just holidays and hot cocoa. It also means snow and ice will cover the roads. It won’t happen every day, but it will happen often enough that we need a plan to deal with it. Closing your eyes and hope for the best isn’t good advice in general, but it’s especially bad when you’re driving. Never close your eyes when driving. Most accidents in winter don’t occur because of closed eyes, but because drivers either aren’t paying attention or aren’t adjusting their driving in response to the conditions. Sometimes, it’s both.
Winter driving is unique
Obviously, the best driving conditions occur on a sunny (but not too sunny) day with no rain or precipitation. Dry, clear roads are the best bet for getting to your destination safely. Rain isn’t a lot of fun, but as long as it’s not coming down so hard you can’t see the road, then even rain is usually manageable. Hydroplaning is a concern, so you need to slow down, but at least you can generally see standing water in the road and decide whether or not it’s safe to cross (if there’s any doubt at all, turning around is always the best option).
But snow and ice? Those are trickier. Driving on slick, snowy surfaces is OK as long as you go slowly and don’t brake suddenly. If you brake suddenly, you’re more likely to hear a sickening grinding noise that means your brakes are having trouble, and oh yeah, you might be sliding across ice now. To avoid that, leave generous amounts of space between you and the car in front of you. Four-wheel drive is best if you live in an area with really harsh winters, but most people can get by fine with all-wheel drive. If you’re in Portland, you probably won’t need snow tires, but if you’re in Boise, they’re a good idea. Winter tires are worth a look if your region gets more than a smattering of snow each year. All-season tires just don’t have enough grip in most cases. Black ice is especially dangerous, as it’s clear and harder to spot. It causes a lot of pedestrians to fall on the sidewalk, and it also causes a lot of drivers to wreck.
If you do get hurt
Let’s say you live in snowy Northern Idaho and decide to take a road trip down to the Oregon Pacific Coast in February. Unfortunately, you run into some bad weather in Lincoln City, Oregon, and now you need to find a Lincoln City auto body shop. Finding a good repair shop is harder on the road, but it’s not impossible. Ask around and get recommendations from locals, including the guy towing your car and the cops who respond to your accident.
Once your immediate needs have been attended to, you may find yourself wondering about the accident. If there was another person involved in the wreck, and if he or she was doing something reckless like texting in the middle of an ice storm, it’s fair to wonder if the person should pay for a portion of your medical bills and other related expenses. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney in the area where the accident occurred and see if you have a case; you should be able to get a free consultation. Even if you don’t have a viable case, it’s better to know rather than to keep wondering. Either way, it will help you move on with your life.
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