The winters in Ohio can be difficult, especially when it comes to driving. Accidents happen. All drivers can benefit from following responsible winter driving tips that can make the roads safer for themselves, their loved ones and for those in the surrounding community.
Winter driving tips covers a wide range of best practices. One thing to note here is that, as experienced personal injury lawyers, our tips are geared towards keeping you out of court. We can’t eliminate all winter accidents—as much as we might like to—but following our suggestions might at least alleviate, if not entirely eliminate, any liability you might face in the event of a car crash.
The reason is that breach of duty is an essential part of any lawsuit. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached their duty to drive responsibly, thereby causing the accident. The underpinning of this breach is the failure to exercise a reasonable standard of care. That is, to follow the best practices an ordinary and reasonable person would, given the circumstances. In this case, the circumstance is winter driving. A person who follows these winter driving tips has a stronger claim to having exercised their reasonable standard of care.
Proper Preparation Improves Performance
Before taking the car out on the wintry roads, make sure everything is working properly. This starts with the tires. As the weather gets colder, especially as we move into January, the tire pressure will drop. Drivers should also check the tread on their tires. Low pressure and weakening tread can prevent tires from keeping their traction in any conditions. That risk is even higher as ice starts to form on a cold day. In the event of an accident, it should be assumed that the other driver’s lawyer will investigate whether that tire problem could have been alleviated by exercising reasonable care.
Other aspects of preparation include making sure that ice and snow are off the sensors that control emergency braking features. Cleaning ice and snow off a car is never fun, especially when one is in a hurry in the morning. When frost is especially instrangient, and it seems to be taking forever for the defrost to work, it can be easy to cut the process short. Maybe a driver neglects the side mirrors. Or maybe they get the windshield just clear enough to see a little bit. If an accident happens, all of this will be held against the driver in weighing whether or not they breached their duty.
Allow Sufficient Travel Time
The principle of reasonable care will certainly come into play when considering how fast a driver was going. In normal conditions, following the speed limit can be a reliable defense against any claim that duty was breached. But if the roads are icy and the visibility poor, following the speed limit may not be enough. The other driver’s attorney will ask what a reasonable person would have done in these conditions? If that answer is to drive 15mph in a zone that otherwise has a 30mph limit, the driver being sued faces a serious problem.
Who decides what’s reasonable and what’s not? It’s an arbitrary line, to be sure. In cases that go to trial, the answer is the 12 individuals chosen to sit on the jury. Their own beliefs in reasonableness will guide the case. This can make the role of the lawyers even more important. That starts with jury selection, and choosing a panel likely to be sympathetic to their client. Then, because the reasonableness standard is an intangible one, an attorney that’s well-prepared on the details and persuasive in their presentation, may be able to move jurors to the side of their client.
Drive Safely This Winter
The National Safety Council offers a comprehensive list of winter driving tips that go beyond matters that can cause an accident. Following these tips can simply make our lives a little more manageable in challenging weather. But above all, please exercise reasonable care when taking your car out on the road this winter. Getting coal in the stocking can make for an unhappy Christmas holiday, but not nearly as much as getting served with a lawsuit for breach of duty in a car accident.