During Virginia winters, snow and ice present hazards to drivers, passengers, bikers and pedestrians alike. Some of these natural hazards are unavoidable. In other cases, drivers may be found at fault for causing weather-related collisions. When a driver’s negligence is the cause of a victim’s injuries, the victim has the right to be compensated for his or her financial losses.
A Roanoke auto accident attorney can help victims seek compensation for their pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses which were caused by the accident.
Know the Warning Signs
Preventing black ice collisions starts with recognizing the warning signs as early as possible. Many new vehicles now provide ice alerts to drivers when the outside temperature is at or below 32 degrees. Drivers should heed these warnings and be aware of their surroundings when driving in borderline freezing temperatures. If the road has a shiny surface and the tires of the vehicle ahead are propelling water back, then it is likely that ice is melting. If, on the other hand, the road appears wet but there is no water spray from other vehicles, this could be a sign of black ice.
Preparing for dangerous conditions is not just a wise safety precaution. It is also a requirement under Virginia law. Section 46.2-861 of the Code of Virginia makes a driver guilty of reckless driving if he or she exceeds a reasonable speed under the circumstances - regardless of the posted speed limit. Thus, a driver who fails to slow down on icy roads can be both guilty of reckless driving and liable for an accident which occurs as a result.
What To Do If You Hit Ice
According to the New York Times, a driver should ease off the gas as soon as he or she feels skidding, or a loss of control of the vehicle. Contrary to instinct, you should not slam on the brakes or turn the steering wheel in an attempt to correct your position. Any sudden movements will further reduce your control over the vehicle. Rather, allow your vehicle to come to a stop as steadily and naturally as possible. Vehicles with a manual transmission can accomplish this by downshifting.
The Canton Rep also discusses the importance of downshifting within the limit of an automatic transmission. Both methods can allow a driver to retain control of the vehicle while driving through snow or ice.
If possible, look for an area of traction. Asphalt, gravel, sand, and similar materials can be found near many ice patches. These substances can help slow your vehicle until you regain control. In some cases, the nearest traction may be ahead of you. Ice patches are usually limited in length. If a driver can keep the vehicle steady for a few feet, the ice patch will often pass.
In any event, the most important step is not to panic. Slowly correct your vehicle as calmly as possible. If an accident occurs, seek medical attention as necessary. Then contact a Roanoke auto accident attorney as soon as possible. Legal advice can help victims improve their access to compensation and promote fair treatment throughout the claims process.