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5 Bad Winter Driving Habits That Can Lead to Injuries, Lawsuits

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on

With fall's wet weather turning to winter snow and ice in many parts of the country, drivers are (hopefully) driving a bit more cautiously.

After all, failing to match your driving habits to inclement weather conditions may place you at fault for an accident, potentially leading to liability for damages or injuries. Unsafe driving in wintry weather can also impact your ability to recover for your own damages.

What are some of the worst winter driving habits that can come back to haunt you in the event of a car accident or injury lawsuit? Here are five:

  1. Following too closely. When roads are wet or icy, stopping distances can increase dramatically. Following the car in front of you too closely may not give you enough time or distance to stop, causing a rear-end collision.
  2. Excessive speed. Many states have, in addition to the posted speed limits, a "basic speed law" that prohibits motorists from traveling faster than road conditions allow. This means that even when you are driving under the posted speed limit, you may still be at fault for driving with "excessive speed" if your speed was unsafe given the weather and road conditions.
  3. Obstructed windshield, headlights. When conditions make visibility difficult, you are still responsible for clearing ice, snow, mud, or other obstructions from your windshield, headlights, and tail lights. Buy an ice scraper if icy windshields are a problem in your area and replace your windshield wipers as soon as they begin wearing out to make sure you can always see where you're going.
  4. Not using chains or snow tires. Along with an ice scraper, your winter supplies should include a set of chains if you are in a mountainous area. In some states, chains may be required for certain roadways during weather events for vehicles without four-wheel drive or snow tires.
  5. Driving under the influence. Although there is never a good time of year to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, winter driving conditions may increase the likelihood of being involved in an accident while driving under the influence. Getting into an accident while driving drunk may result in a felony DUI charge if another person is injured or killed as a result.

To learn more about proving fault in a car accident, check out FindLaw's section on Car Accident Liability.

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