Driving on slippery roads can cause deadly accidents, especially if drivers are not taking precautions. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reported that wind and slippery surfaces caused 1,138 traffic deaths in 2020. The number represents 2.1% of the total fatal crashes in the same year.
In 2021, a 74-year-old businessman died due to a vehicular accident. In their investigation, the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office believes extreme weather conditions contributed to the deadly crash.
The Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) also reported a fatal spinout crash involving an SUV and a school bus. Fortunately, the incident did not harm the 22 children onboard. However, the 57-year-old driver died from his injuries. The authorities closed the wet roads temporarily to prevent another accident.
You should contact a lawyer immediately if you were involved in a slippery road accident. This way, you can protect your rights and receive compensation for your losses or injuries.
9 Safety Tips When Driving on Slippery Roads
Slippery conditions require drivers to be more cautious on the road. Remember that reckless driving can cause deadly accidents, especially on wet roads. Heavy rain and winter storms are particularly dangerous, but you can be proactive. When driving on slippery roads, you should observe the following safety tips before hitting the road.
1. Inspect tire pressure and tread
Proper tire pressure can improve your car’s handling so that you can control your vehicle better. Moreover, tire treads increase traction, which you need to counter the reduced friction of wet roads.
Use a pressure gauge at home or a gas station to check tire pressure and ensure the tread is of adequate depth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure your tires are in good condition.
2. Check windshield wipers, lights, and signals
While you may ignore them on sunny days, windshield wipers significantly impact your safety while driving in inclement weather. They remove snow, raindrops, and frost to provide good visibility. Even light rain can dramatically cut your visibility, making driving risky.
Your headlights and taillights are critical as they allow you to see your surroundings while driving in the rain. Check that your turn signals are working as they let other drivers know the direction you want to go.
These accessories help ensure your safety on wet roads. Regularly check on them before leaving your house.
3. Avoid using cruise control
Maintain full control of the vehicle when driving on icy surfaces. Although cruise control may help you navigate normal road conditions, avoid using it on challenging terrains. It can cause your tires to lose contact with the pavement.
4. Drive slowly
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recommends the following speed limits when driving on slippery roads:
- Wet road – 5 to 10 mph slower than the posted speed limit
- Packed snow – reduce speed by half
- Icy pavement – slow to a crawl
Some areas have a lower-than-normal posted speed limit because they tend to be more slippery than others. The authorities usually impose a 40 mph limit in these areas to protect drivers.
5. Maintain a safe following distance
Keep a safe distance from other drivers in case they stop suddenly or lose control. Maintaining a five to six-second following distance can help prevent fatal accidents. You can have more time to step on the brakes, helping you avoid sudden stops.
Fortunately, most modern cars have anti-lock brakes (ABS), which increase control and stability. In the US, Section 571.126 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires car manufacturers to comply with FMVSS Standard No. 126. It mandates the inclusion of Electronic Stability Control in conjunction with ABS for light vehicles. The rule applies to all vehicles with a gross weight rating of 1000 lb (4,536 kilograms) or less.
6. Always wear your seat belt
Seat belts help keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle. They provide the best defense against road accidents by reducing the risk of deadly injury by 45 percent in cars and 60 percent in SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks.
7. Bring an emergency kit in your car
Road accidents can result in unexpected events, so it helps to keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. It should contain essentials, such as the following:
- Flashlight and batteries
- Spare tire and tool kit
- Power bank or portable charger
- Rain poncho
You should also bring a first aid kit, which should include the following:
- Food and water
- Adhesive tape
- Scissors and tweezers
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hydrogen peroxide
8. Save emergency numbers
Keep the number of roadside service companies that can help you in emergencies. You can print the numbers on a card and paste them into your glove box, or save them on your phone.
9. Keep calm in case of a skid or crash
It is difficult to stay composed during a skid, but it can help you take control of your vehicle. Remember to do the following if your vehicle skids:
- Avoid slamming on the brakes because your car has no traction.
- Turn the steering wheel gently in the direction you want to go.
- Allow the wheels to regain their grip.
Reasons Accidents May Occur on Slippery Roads
Aside from the reduced friction due to icy roads, there are several reasons why slippery roadways are dangerous.
Submerged roads make it almost impossible for drivers to prevent hydroplaning. It is when the tires lose their grip on the road due to standing water. It results in loss of braking, steering, and power control.
Inclement weather also affects road conditions, including visibility. Poor visibility on highways compels drivers to vary their speed, which could lead to more accidents.
Speed variance can increase the risk of car accidents for several reasons. Changing your speed on the road can make it difficult for other drivers to anticipate what you will do. Another is a vehicle traveling at a significantly different speed from other vehicles can put it in their blind spots.
Moreover, drivers may feel anxious over weather conditions. A challenging road surface may also cause them to overthink, resulting in tensed muscles and panic attacks. It then increases the chances of losing control over their cars.
Unforeseen circumstances may also contribute to road accidents. Submerged highways make it difficult for drivers to avoid potholes and roadblocks. Unlike dry roads, where you can see the area where you are driving, wet pavements tend to conceal these blockages.
Areas Prone to Wet Road Accidents
Although slippery roads are generally dangerous, some places pose more significant risks than others. These areas may include unmaintained areas, such as construction sites and uneven roads.
Distracted drivers may plow through a construction zone by accident. Moreover, winter driving on rough roads increases drivers’ chances of losing control of their cars.
Curvy roads, especially when covered by black ice, present driving hazards. When a vehicle drives through a curve, the centrifugal force tries to pull it toward the edge. The strong pull reduces the tires’ grip, which has already decreased due to slippery roads.
Areas with oil and grease buildup also cause slippery road conditions. It can result in hydroplaning, causing tires to lose their grip on the road. Likewise, standing water can reduce tire traction and, in extreme circumstances, stall your engine. Since oil and water do not combine, the rain will not wash away an oil spill.
Possible Injuries Due to Slippery Roads
Victims of accidents due to wet roads may suffer from physical injuries and mental trauma. Physical injuries may be due to impact or penetration.
Impact injuries happen when a person’s body connects with a blunt object, such as a window or dashboard. On the other hand, penetrating injuries occur when a foreign object, like glass, pierces the skin.
Another classification involves the affected body part. For instance, head and neck injuries include concussions and whiplash.
Back injuries cover paralysis, ruptured discs, and nerve damage. Soft tissue injuries include scrapes, cuts, and damaged cartilage.
Internal injuries may also occur in car accidents. It can take the form of broken bones and internal bleeding, which are not always apparent. You should seek immediate medical attention to detect signs of these injuries.
Victims may also experience mental disorders, including depression, post-traumatic disorder (PTSD), anxiety, mood disorder, and memory loss. After an accident, some people may avoid leaving the house and attending events because of the emotional distress they experienced.
Determining Liability When Slippery Roads Cause Accidents
Accidents on slippery roads are often the fault of the driver. However, the act of God provisions may absolve them from liability.
You should also note that the negligent party may not be the driver involved in the accident. For example, a road crew failed to post warning signs, causing the driver to swerve and lose control of the car.
Drivers are legally responsible for employing reasonable care while on the road. They can be liable for failure to meet this level of care. For instance, the driver contributed to an incident because they did not follow traffic rules.
For instance, the victim may demand damages from a driver who disobeyed the posted speed limit. Another example involves not keeping a safe following distance. In such cases, the court may direct them to pay compensation.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires drivers to inspect and maintain their passenger vehicles. Thus, the driver may be liable when a car has faulty windshield wipers or taillights.
Elements of negligence in slippery road accidents
The car accident lawyer must prove that the at-fault party acted negligently to pursue a personal injury claim. Negligence is the failure to act with a reasonable level of care. It may include actions like driving recklessly or omissions such as failure to post warning signs.
Your lawyer must establish the following conditions:
- The at-fault party had a legal duty of care to the victim.
- There was a breach of that duty, which may involve acts of commission or omission.
- The victim suffered an injury.
- The breach of duty was the direct cause of the victim’s injury.
For instance, Luna is filing a car accident lawsuit against Noah. As the driver of a passenger vehicle, Noah has the legal duty to follow traffic regulations. However, Noah drove 60 km per hour, exceeding the suggested limit. As a result, Luna suffered from internal injuries.
Luna’s legal counsel showed evidence that Noah’s reckless driving caused Luna’s injuries. In this example, all elements of negligence were present. However, most real-life incidents are seldom straightforward. Other factors may play a role in complicating the issue.
Act of God defense
When an act of nature happens, the driver may not be held responsible for the accident. For example, black ice forms on the road, making it extremely slippery. In that case, a driver may not be liable because they cannot avoid the accident.
This defense is also known as an “act of God.” The driver can raise this argument when the weather conditions are highly unexpected.
For instance, he was pushed into oncoming traffic by a deadly snowstorm and could not do anything to prevent the crash.
Possible Damages in Slippery Road Accidents
The term “damages” in law is different from its ordinary meaning. In the legal sense, damages refer to the compensation for loss of injury caused by another person’s fault or negligence. In a slippery road accident, you can demand two kinds of damages.
Economic damages involve payment for the victim’s quantifiable financial losses. It may include compensation for medical bills, loss of income, and repair costs.
On the other hand, non-economic damages compensate a victim for non-monetary losses, including emotional distress, pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Did you know?
Even light rain can make roads slippery if it is cold enough. The National Weather Service issues freezing rain advisories to warn drivers and mitigate the risk.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Slippery roads are dangerous to drivers, so it is essential to follow these safety tips. However, not all drivers take the proper precautions, or other parties fail in their duty to others. In such cases, injuries or death can result.
Suppose you are a victim of a slippery road accident due to negligence. In that case, you may get compensation for your losses. However, proving negligence may not be easy. Find an experienced car accident attorney to file a claim and help prove your case in court if necessary.
We understand your challenges as a victim of slippery road accidents, and we’d like to help. Visit The Personal Injury Center and book a free consultation. Based on your answers, we will match you with the right lawyer or law firm for your case.
Need help navigating the legal system in a car accident lawsuit? Schedule a free consultation today! The Personal Injury Center has the legal resources and network to help you protect your rights.
FAQs on Slippery Road Accidents
Hydroplaning happens when water remains between the tires. No specific amount of water triggers hydroplaning. Your speed, certain road conditions, and tire tread are some factors that contribute to hydroplaning.
Roadways tend to be more slippery after rainfall following a dry spell. Oil, dust, and debris collect on the surface during a dry period. These substances mix with water during a downpour, making the highways slick.