Avoiding Weather-related Traffic Accidents

As seasoned motorists, most drivers understand that weather changes can affect driving conditions to a significant extent. Snow, ice and rain can be major contributing factors in automobile, commercial trucking, and motorcycle-related road accidents. Even wind can play a part in either causing or contributing to a serious traffic wreck.

As drivers ourselves, the Maryland personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, know very well how a change in the weather can quickly raise the odds of being involved in a bad roadway collision. Sometimes without warning, a heavy rainstorm, thick fog or surprise blizzard can catch motorists unaware. The bodily injuries that can result from accidents caused in part by severe weather can be just as serious or life-threatening as those sustained in a crash caused by a negligent driver on a perfectly sunny day.

We fully understand the emotional upset that individuals experience in the aftermath of a bad car or truck accident. While most drivers might see the remnants of a severe traffic accident on the shoulder of an interstate, beltway or city street from time to time, most of us are lucky enough to avoid actually being caught up in such potentially tragic events. However, when it does happen to someone, the shock of the event can be significant and long lasting.

As professional auto injury attorneys, we make it our job to help clients put the often-shattered pieces of their lives back together. It has been said that the sense of control that most people feel in their daily lives is only an illusion. Surely, when we are behind the wheel of our cars it may seem that we have a great deal of influence over our future. This is partially true, but other motorists and certain factors totally beyond our control are always waiting in the wings.

At best, we can perhaps manage the risks that are ever-present on Maryland roadways. Regardless of where one drives, be it the Baltimore area, on the streets of Annapolis, over in Gaithersburg, or in the District of Columbia, being prepared for the worst can often allow drivers to anticipate more readily and react faster to any threats that could result in a serious injury accident.

Watching the evening news it is easy to believe that major weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and windstorms are mostly to blame for the majority of deaths and injuries in the United States. But if one digs a little deeper, there is much to say about the potential for tragic results when the confluence of a serious meteorological event and vehicular traffic take place. As automobile accident lawyers, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen knows that external factors are often to blame for many car, truck and motorcycle crashes. One should never underestimate the influence that bad weather can have on a driver’s ability to maintain proper control of his or her vehicle, which can compound the already dizzying task of monitoring and reacting to the normal traffic-related dangers and roadway hazards all around.

Where the weather is concerned, we are all in the same boat; nobody is able to control the storms and other potentially dangerous climatic activity that might affect ourselves and our passengers when traveling through challenging meteorological events. However, we can prepare ourselves to survive some of the worst that nature can dish out.

Safety experts at the Federal Highway Administration estimate that, on average, 7,000 or more people die each year in weather-related roadway incidents all across the U.S. This is based on highway accident data collected over the years with a focus on car, truck and motorcycle wrecks where adverse weather conditions such as fog, rain, sleet or snow resulted in a roadway fatality. Many of these events can cause slick or slippery pavement, but a motorist’s visibility can also be seriously compromised in these kinds of weather-related incidents.

Knowledge is power, and being able to anticipate the increased risk of getting into a bad traffic accident is a driver’s best defense against becoming just one more statistic on a list of annual highway injuries and fatalities. Regardless of whether a driver’s visibility is impaired by precipitation, dust or dirt kicked up by high winds, or white-out blizzard conditions, knowing when to slow down and how to signal to other motorists of one’s actions is critical.

Taking the time to check the weather report before leaving one’s home for work or school can also go a long way toward getting to one’s destination safely. Understanding that precipitation can easily mix with oil and other fluids deposited on the roadway during the preceding dry days is also important. The exact physics of operating a motor vehicle in bad weather might be lost on many people, but the knowledge that rain, ice, sleet and snow can all cause reduced vehicle performance in terms of tire traction, vehicle stability and drivers’ ability to safely maneuver their cars can help in preventing a large number of collisions.

Another important, but often overlooked component of weather-related motor vehicles accidents is the effect that lower temperatures and wind can have near roadway over- and underpasses. The signs that we all see from time to time in good weather -- those stating that “Bridge ices before road” or “Bridge maybe icy” -- are there for a reason. In the presence of even a small amount precipitation, near-freezing temperatures combined with the chilling effect of the wind can cause the roadway above or below an overpass to become ice-covered long before any other portions of the road exhibit the same condition. Remembering this simple bit of information could one day save your life.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the more than six million traffic collisions each year, almost a quarter of them -- about 1.5 million -- are weather-related and took place in what researchers refer to as adverse conditions. The sad fact is that rain, snow, sleet and fog, among other types of weather, result in 7,000 deaths and more than 600,000 injuries every 12 months.

The NHTSA has stated that the majority of weather-related crashes (about 75 percent) occur in the presence of wet, non-frozen pavement. The balance of road accidents include collisions that occur during winter conditions (about 15 percent), which include snow or sleet; with others taking place on icy roadways (approximately 13 percent; and on streets with slushy/snowy coatings (about 11 percent). It is also interesting to note that only three percent of roadway accidents occur in the presence of fog.

At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we know that even the best prepared drivers can be caught off-guard by unexpected events. While the weather is often unpredictable, it can certainly be anticipated much more easily than an auto accident caused by the thoughtless or careless actions of another driver. This is why we are always prepared to offer assistance to the victims of negligence-related car and trucking-related accidents.

The attorneys and legal staff at our law offices are committed to fighting for full compensation for victims of traffic-related injury accidents. Our job is to help victims and their families face some of the most difficult times in their lives. Whether someone is hurt badly in an injury-related car crash, or if a family wishes to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their loved one killed in a commercial trucking collision, we prepare every case with the intent of going to trial.

We value the trust that so many of our clients have placed in us as we pursue their claims against negligent parties and their insurance companies. It goes without saying that legal professionals at Lebowitz & Mzhen are ready, willing and able to assist victims recover the damages due to them by law. As experienced trial attorneys, we recommend that those who have been hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle collision contact a qualified auto accident lawyer to handle their Maryland personal injury cases. You may give us a call at our toll-free number -- (800) 654-1949 -- or email Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.