Did you know that icy roadways are the cause of over 500,000 car crashes every year and that these car accidents result in nearly 2,000 annual deaths?
In Portland, Oregon, inclement weather conditions like snow and freezing rain can cause devastating car accidents, such as the incident that occurred in early February 2017 when almost 50 vehicles were involved in a major crash. The accident brought about several minor injuries, and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) even issued a warning to all motorists, urging them to steer clear of I-5 near the Capitol Highway until the weather conditions improved.
Fortunately, no one was killed in that particular accident, but the message learned was all too clear: icy road conditions put drivers in peril. So what should you do to better your chances of staying safe when harsh winter weather strikes? After all, you can’t just call out of work every time the roads get slick – especially not in Portland, Oregon.
- Use extreme caution. When the weather is bad, defensive driving is your best chance at ensuring your safety. Be sure to pay close attention to the road, other drivers, and changing weather patterns. If possible, limit your distractions (via the phone, radio, etc.) so that you aren’t tempted to deter your focus.
- Turn into slides and go easy on your breaks. If you want to avoid “skating” and hydroplaning when driving through adverse winter weather conditions, you might have to do things that seem unnatural. Turning into a slide might seem like a bad decision when the roads are clear, but acting on your instincts during a winter storm will greater your chances at losing control of your vehicle. Likewise, slamming on your breaks at the first sign of danger is a surefire way to lock your ABS system, which can worsen your chances at safety.
- Avoid treacherous areas. If you know the weather is going to be bad, it might be a good decision to take an alternate route into the office – especially if your typical commute involves traveling down backroads. To avoid the danger of an auto accident, fight the ice by traveling down straighter roadways with lower speed limits when possible.
In Oregon, many people are not aware that the law requires drivers to maintain a “proper lookout” when there is inclement weather in order to reduce the risks of loss, injury, and death from a car or truck crash. This means driving at appropriate speeds under the existing conditions and maintaining control of the vehicle. If a driver fails to abide by these standards, it could result in a negligence lawsuit – one you can pursue if you are injured or damaged as a result of a car crash caused by someone else’s failure to act safely under adverse road conditions.
If you hope to avoid being involved in a car accident with legal liability in the state of Oregon during the harsh winter season, there are a few things you need to do when driving a motor vehicle:
- Proper lookout. No matter what the conditions may be, all drivers in the state of Oregon must maintain a proper lookout for other vehicles, pedestrians, traffic control devices and any other types of roadway hazards. When the weather is bad, a driver’s responsibility can increase because there is an assumption that they’ve been warned via obvious road conditions and news or weather reports. Failure to maintain a proper lookout, especially during hazardous conditions, can result in negligence and give rise to a claim for damages and personal injury.
- Drive at a safe speed. To determine a safe speed, Oregon drivers are required to consider the circumstances and conditions in which they are driving. Under what one may describe as “good” weather conditions, drivers must follow the posted speed limit (or at least the same speed as other drivers in the area). During a storm that can impair a driver’s vision and their ability to control their motor vehicle, speed should always be reduced, and failure to do so could leave you vulnerable in the event of an accident.
- Keep control. Controlling your motor vehicle is the most important obligation you have as an Oregon driver. Failure to control your car can constitute negligence, and losing control due to ice or snow is not a perfect defense. Swerving too quickly, driving close to other cars, and, most obviously, drunk driving (often a criminal offense) can result in dangerous consequences – especially when the weather is bad.
Icy road conditions are not to be taken lightly. They pose as serious threats for drivers of all ages, no matter what their experience levels may be.
That said, car crashes do sometimes happen, regardless of how careful we are. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident caused by icy roadways, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the Law Offices of Patrick Cadiz to schedule a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney to learn more.
For more information on how we can help you and your family receive the compensation you deserve, please call the Law Offices of Patrick Cadiz (located in Portland, OR and Hillsboro, OR) at 503-858-3261.