Driving always carries an element of danger, even when the weather is ideal. If you or others are not paying attention to your surroundings, you could be in an accident. Add in bad weather and careless driving, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Central Texas weather is generally great. Much of the year is warm and sunny. But there are weather elements that arise at times that create bad driving conditions and can greatly increase the risk for accidents – especially when other drivers aren’t cautious.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, rain is a factor in increased accidents and fatalities. Data shows that rain was a factor in 47% of weather-related deaths on U.S. roadways between 2004 and 2013. In that time period, 2,732 people were killed as a result of rain-related crashes.
Wind can also be in issue. Wind speeds can affect vehicle stability and increase accident risks. Icy pavement and fog are also inclement weather conditions that have been attributed to serious car accidents. These weather conditions were each responsible for around 10 percent of weather related deaths between 2004 and 2013.
When drivers in Texas encounter bad weather, they need to know how to react. Drivers in these situations should to pay attention to the conditions and slow down accordingly. Drivers who fail to recognize the danger of inclement weather and may be negligent if their actions cause a crash.
When a negligent driver causes a car accident in bad weather, that driver could be held responsible for damages. In an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, car accident victims can receive compensation for their losses. An attorney can help to explain how a personal injury lawsuit can help car accident victims.
At Burch Law Firm, we have more than a quarter century of experience helping injured people seek the money they deserve following a car accident. As experienced personal injury lawyers, we can carefully evaluate the merits of a case and provide the valuable insight that our clients need. If you think someone else’s careless driving in bad weather caused your crash, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at our firm.
Reckless Driving in Inclement Weather
When people are forced to drive in inclement weather, they must take certain precautions to reduce the risk of serious auto accidents. For instance, in addition to slowing down, drivers might need to give themselves more space to maneuver.
Unfortunately, however, not all motorists adjust their driving according to the weather conditions, and these reckless drivers can cause devastating car accidents. If you have been hurt by a reckless driver in New Braunfels or elsewhere in Central Texas, the dedicated team at the Burch Law Firm can help you understand your legal rights and options.
Dangers of Driving in Adverse Weather Conditions
If you have lived in Central Texas for long, you know that the weather here can change quickly, and drivers must be prepared to handle their vehicles safely in rain, ice, hail, high winds, and other adverse weather conditions.
Inclement weather can lead to the following hazards, making it imperative for drivers to slow down and proceed with caution:
- Slick roads
- Decreased visibility
- Storm debris on roadways
- Increased stopping distance requirements
- Road defects caused or exacerbated by bad weather
Reckless drivers who fail to account for bad weather are a danger to themselves as well as others on the road. However, they can be held responsible for any accidents they cause as a result of their error.
Unless you are a transplant from a snowier part of the country, you may not have had a lot of practice driving in snow or ice. And even if you have, it’s best to exercise an abundance of caution if you are driving in winter weather, because there are a lot of drivers on the road who may not know how to drive safely in the weather conditions.
The Texas Department of Transportation has a few tips for driving in winter weather, including:
- Check your speed. Winter weather conditions call for driving below posted speed limits — and you can actually get ticketed for driving “too fast for conditions.”
- Space it out. Take your normal following distance and triple it. Winter weather means that it takes longer for vehicles to stop, and you or the vehicle in front of you could run into unexpected patches of ice or start sliding.
- Make way for the snow plows. Make sure that you are especially not following close behind a snow plow. Stay out of their way and let them work.
- Be extra careful on bridges and overpasses. These areas tend to freeze before the regular road does.
- Steer into a slide. If you start to slide, do not touch the gas or the brakes. Instead, steer in the direction you want to go until the wheels find traction again.
Though snow is not as common in Central Texas as in some other parts of the country, most of the bigger cities have a snowplow fleet. If you haven’t driven in snow or been around when snowplows are doing their jobs before, here are some things you should be aware of:
- You should maintain a safe distance. Snowplows can’t see directly behind them, so stay a safe distance behind a plow in case they need to reverse or stop. Maintaining a safe distance from the snowplow will also protect your car from the sand or deicing material that the plow spreads on the roads.
- Pull over if you can’t see. If there is a snow cloud or whiteout in front of you, it may be difficult to tell if it was caused by a plow or by the weather itself. If you can’t see in front of you, pull over to a safe stopping place until it clears out enough to see.
Flash floods are not uncommon in Central Texas, and can be extremely dangerous if you are out driving. When a road is flooded, it is difficult to estimate how high the water is, and if you try to drive through it, your vehicle could stall or sink.
If you encounter a flooded road during a flash flood, turn around. It’s not worth the risk.
Texas Department of Transportation has some additional guidance:
- Do not try to walk, swim or drive through fast-moving water.
- If you vehicle stalls, leave it behind and try to get to higher ground.
- If there is a barrier blocking a low water crossing, do not attempt to go around it. Not only is it dangerous, but you could face fines and/or jail time for not obeying.
Hurricanes are more common in the coastal cities in Texas, but hurricanes and accompanying tropical storms are not uncommon and their effects can reach far inland. Make sure you are paying attention to weather alerts and be aware of any expected storms or hurricanes before you go out.
Before the storm hits, make sure you decide on an evacuation route and know what to do if there is an emergency The Texas Department of Transportation has some resources to enable you to prepare for evacuation in case it is necessary:
- Statewide Highway Conditions or call toll free (800) 452-9292
- Hurricane Evacuation Roadway Contraflow Brochures (Routes)
- Hurricane Evacuation Contraflow Videos
- National Hurricane Center
Contact a Reckless Driving Lawyer in New Braunfels
If you or someone you care about has been hurt by a reckless driver who failed to adjust to inclement weather, the attorneys of the Burch Law Firm know how to help. Learn more about your legal options today by calling us. Evening or weekend appointments are available based on the needs of our clients.