Last week, Winter Storm Jonas hit Nashville and gridlocked the city Friday, January 22, 2016. It didn’t take long for cars to begin stalling across the city and interstates surrounding downtown, which soon became completely gridlocked. Drivers who found themselves trying to weave their way around cars found themselves getting stuck as well.
At noon, Mayor Megan Barry made a statement saying the city was working as hard as it could to get the roadways back to a drivable state. That was harder than she thought it would be. By 11:30 a.m., Nashville Metro Police Department stated there were more than 200 car accidents across the city, 12 of which involved injury.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN ACCIDENT IS CAUSED BY BAD WEATHER?
While most car accidents are caused by driver negligence (such as texting or speeding), Winter Storm Jonas was a prime example of extreme winter weather circumstances that wreaked havoc on drivers caught in it. However, if you were injured in a car accident in bad weather, it is still possible negligence was at play.
The driver who hit you could have been driving aggressively, despite the weather conditions. It is, after all, the driver’s responsibility to keep the vehicle under control the entire time they are driving. If they fail to slow down, fail to keep a larger distance between your car and theirs and speed excessively during a storm, they are at fault. When it comes to injury, bad weather does not excuse negligence.
HOW DO I KEEP SAFE WHEN DRIVING IN HARSH WINTER WEATHER?
The recent “snowpocalypse” and the vehicular disasters that followed begs the questions of how to best stay safe when dealing with extreme winter weather. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offered some tips that involve very simple ideas: prepare, protect and prevent.
If you’re aware of the possibility of a winter storm, make sure your car is maintained. Check the battery, the windshield wipers and check your tire tread depth. Always make sure you put no-freeze liquid in your washer reservoir (because, you know, freezing temperatures) and double check your anti-freeze. Have supplies on-hand in case you become stranded, such as jumper cables, sand in case you get stuck, an ice scraper, a flashlight, some snacks and water. These simple preparations could save you a lot of trouble down the line.
Protect yourself by making sure you and all passengers buckle up. Make sure all children are in the backseat and place infant car seats in the correct direction. Remember that stopping distances are much further on ice, so always begin breaking earlier than you would under normal conditions. If you become stalled and stranded, turn your hazards on and clear your exhaust pipe.
Prevent accidents by avoiding alcohol altogether during winter storms (or, in general). Also, keep an eye out for pedestrians, especially in areas where other vehicles are stranded.
Stanley A. Davis is a personal injury attorney who helps car accident victims in Nashville.
“But now faith, hope, and love remain–these three. The greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13