Many of us like to think that we are good at driving in winter conditions, but unfortunately the statistics say otherwise. Here in Pennsylvania we like to laugh at how a small amount of snow can shut down the roads in states like Texas, but it turns out that we are not much better. Because we are so confident in our driving abilities, we tend not to slow down or avoid going out altogether when the roads are covered with ice and snow in the winter; and this leads to more accidents.
Pennsylvania is the 2nd Most Dangerous State for Winter Driving
While Michigan is the number one most dangerous state for winter driving, Pennsylvania ranks at the number two spot. And yes, that means even the frozen wasteland known as Minnesota is safer. But, you may find solace in knowing that two of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states, New York and Ohio are also ranked in the top 10 for most dangerous.
The Northeastern United States is in an unfortunate geographic location where we tend to get hit with the worst of the winter storms. It might not be as cold or have as much snow as the Midwest, but when we do get snow storms, they hit hard. And this, combined with the poor condition of Pennsylvania roads year-round, makes for some of the most dangerous winter driving conditions in the country.
Winter Driving Crash Statistics
In 2018 there were 41,117 accidents in Pennsylvania which were directly related to the condition of the road surface. Of those road surface condition related accidents, 30%, or 12,371, were specifically caused by snow, ice or sleet. That also means snow, ice, or sleet caused 3.8% of all accidents in Pennsylvania — including distracted driving and DUI accidents.
Now, these numbers may not seem that bad when you compare them to the number of cars of Pennsylvania roads every day. However, you should also consider just how many days per year the roads are covered in snow, ice, or sleet — it is not actually that many. So for this many crashes to be occurring on such a small number of days each year is staggering.
Not All Bad News
But, it is not all bad news when it comes to winter weather car accidents. While there are certainly a lot of crashes, they tend to be less severe than crashes during the warmer months. This is simply because while people do usually drive at slower speeds in suboptimal weather conditions, the snow and ice cause cars to slide into each other anyway. So the good news is that even if you do end up in an auto accident in the winter, it is less likely to be a severe or fatal crash.
However, that is not to say you will always be able to walk away without injury. As stated at the beginning, we tend to think we are better winter weather drivers than we really are, and this can lead to negligent drivers crashing into you even when you are doing everything right. For example, something as simple as a fender bender from someone not stopping in time can cause serious injuries to your neck and back.
Winter Accident Liability
If you have been injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania, it is important to know how the Commonwealth assigns liability. Pennsylvania uses a system known as comparative negligence, or comparative fault. Under this system, both, or all if there are more than two drivers involved, may be partially at fault for the accident. Damages are then awarded to victims based on their percentage of fault. If you were found to be 10% at fault, then you can recover 90% of the damages. However, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you cannot recover damages from the accident.
Liability could also be attributed to third parties as well, and this can be especially true when it comes to accidents in the winter. If the roads are not properly cleared in a timely fashion, the township or company contracted to do the clearing and salting could be partially at fault. Or if there was a product defect which played a role in either the crash or your injuries, that could mean yet another party is partially at fault. In a normal car accident there are often many parties involved, and winter crashes are no different
Remember to stay safe this winter by slowing down and paying attention to both the road conditions and your surroundings. Even if you are doing everything right, it is not safe to assume everyone else on the road is as well. After all, Pennsylvania is the second most dangerous state for winter weather driving, with over 12,000 accidents caused by slippery road conditions each winter. If you are injured in a car accident, it is important for you to contact an experienced attorney. Car accidents involve a lot of moving parts — both literally and figuratively — so cases can quickly get messy without an attorney on your side.
Personal Injury Attorney Robert L. Schwarz
Have you been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another driver? Contact the Law Office of Robert L. Schwarz today for a free consultation regarding your case. With experience as a defense attorney, Mr. Schwarz knows the defenses the liable parties are likely to bring up and can help you receive the compensation you deserve.