Winter Weather and the Risk of Car Accidents in Virginia

Winter is in full force here in Virginia, and if there was any doubt of that, last week’s severe snowstorm that slammed the state was a harsh reminder. The predicted few inches of snow quickly added up to more than a foot, leaving many motorists totally unprepared for the resulting dangerous travel conditions. According to Virginia State Police, troopers responded to more than 1,000 vehicle crashes, many of which caused victims to suffer serious personal injuries.  One of the most treacherous areas during the storm was on a 40-mile stretch on Interstate 95, where hundreds of drivers were left stranded in their vehicles for more than 24 hours. There were multiple reports of jackknifed tractor-trailers, car accidents, and disabled vehicles all along the highway.

Weather-Related Car Accidents

Thankfully, storms such as the one that occurred last week do not happen too often in Virginia, however, we still have our share of bad weather that can lead to serious car accidents.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), there are almost six million crashes each year in this country, with approximately 20 percent of these crashes a result of hazardous weather. Slippery or flooded roads can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle, causing crashes, injuries, and even deaths. This is why drivers need to be especially alert when driving in bad weather.

Depending on the temperature of the weather, any precipitation that may be falling can result in rain, fog, snow, sleet, or hail. Obviously, the lower the temperature drops, the more likely it is for the water falling on the roads to turn to ice, causing a dangerous driving situation.

When bad weather causes hazardous road conditions, it is important for drivers to adjust their driving in order to stay safe. For example, just because the speed limit is 65 mph in the area you’re driving in, if the roads are icy, it is critical to slow down to minimize your risk of crashing. Icy and snowy conditions building up on pavement leave tires with no friction to grip. It can take up to 10 times longer for a vehicle to come to a stop on icy roads than it does on dry roads.  Unfortunately, there are many drivers out there who do not adjust their driving based on the weather, causing victims to sustain sometimes severe personal injuries in the car accidents that these drivers cause.

Sharing the roads with tractor-trailers and other large trucks during winter weather driving conditions can be even more treacherous. Icy and slippery road conditions can make maneuvering a large vehicle extremely difficult.

Commercial vehicle operators, like tractor-trailers and large truck drivers, have a duty to adjust their driving to hazardous conditions, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act regulations may require that truckers actually pull over and not drive in known hazardous conditions, like a snowstorm, or extremely icy conditions.

Our Virginia personal injury lawyers know that, unfortunately, too many commercial truck drivers fail to obey these rules and continue on their way, usually rushing to meet almost-impossible delivery schedules demanded by the trucking companies they work for. A trucker’s decision to stay on the road during bad weather is one that often results in catastrophic injuries for those he or she shares the road with.

Some of the most common types of bad weather truck accidents that happen in Virginia include:

  • Jackknifing – A jackknife truck accident happens when the trailer begins moving at a faster speed than the cab of the truck.
  • Rear-end crash – The truck driver may not anticipate how slippery the roads are and fails to allow enough time to stop the vehicle.
  • Head-on crash – Icy roads can cause the tractor-trailer to slide into oncoming traffic.
  • Underride accidents – These accidents happen when a passenger vehicle crashes and slides under the rear end of a tractor-trailer.
  • Rollover accidents – Slippery roads can cause a truck driver to lose control when trying to make a turn, causing the truck to roll over on a nearby vehicle.

Contact Our Office Today

While any car accident claim can be complex, those that occur during bad weather are typically more complicated because they often involve multiple vehicles, all with insurance companies behind them trying to point the finger at other involved parties and avoid having to pay the financial compensation the victim is legally entitled to. This is one reason why victims should have a personal injury lawyer advocating for them.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of another party’s negligent or reckless actions while behind the wheel, contact a Virginia car accident attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp. Our personal injury law firm has been fighting to get accident victims the compensation they deserve for more than three decades. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help you.