Winter weather in Illinois brings heavy rain, snow, wind and fog that contributes to thousands of car accidents each year. Drivers involved in weather-related accidents often suffer serious injuries and fatalities that require an Illinois personal injury lawyer to handle legal issues that arise.
Car Accident Statistics
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), weather-related car accidents result in more fatalities than all combined major weather disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes each year. Based on accident statistics recorded between 2005 and 2014, there were more than 5,748,000 vehicle crashes, and over 1,250,000 of these accidents are are related to hazardous weather conditions like rain, fog, wind, snow, and ice. These weather-related incidents result in almost 6,000 fatalities every year in the United States. Accident statistics show that U.S. weather-related car accidents account for 15 times the fatalities, as compared to deaths from natural disasters every year.
According to DOT statistics, the 10-year averages for weather-related accidents pose high risks of injuries to auto drivers and passengers involved in a crash.
- Rain – 573,784 crashes; 2,732 fatalities
- Wet pavement – 907,831 crashes; 4,488 fatalities
- Snow and sleet – 210,341 crashes; 739 fatalities
- Snow and slushy pavement – 174,446 crashes; 538 fatalities
- Icy roads – 151,944 crashes; 559 fatalities
- Fog – 28,533 crashes; 495 fatalities
Snow, rain, and fog, all common winter weather conditions in Illinois, significantly reduce a driver’s visibility. Drivers often have difficulty seeing the front of their own vehicles, as well as other cars, motorcyclists, bicycle riders and pedestrians. An Illinois personal injury lawyer sees many weather-related car accidents that involve pedestrians in busy Chicago areas.
In addition to limited visibility, snow and ice creates slick roads that result in serious motor vehicle accidents. When drivers quickly hit their brakes on icy pavement, cars often skid or spin out of control into oncoming traffic, guard rails and concrete center dividers. These types of accidents often cause rollovers and head-on collisions that result in head trauma, brain injuries, neck, back and spinal cord injuries, and fatalities.
Safety Tips to Prevent Accidents
In Illinois, cold winter weather can quickly create hazardous driving conditions on roads and freeways. During winter weather or inclement driving conditions, drivers should inspect their vehicles on a regular basis for safety. To prevent weather-related accidents and injuries, drivers should prepare for hazardous driving conditions by keeping their cars well-maintained and properly serviced.
- Inspect the Tires – Properly maintained tires can prevent blowouts, skids and weather-related accidents and injuries. Drivers should never ignore the wear on their tires. It’s important to regularly check the tread depth on all four tires and look for signs of damage like tears and punctures. Worn tires are responsible for a high number of car accidents every year, so they should be replaced at the first signs of wear and tear.
- Inspect the Brakes – When roads are wet or icy, faulty brakes can cause serious car crashes. A well-maintained brake system is a necessity, especially in inclement weather conditions. To avoid accidents that require an Illinois personal injury lawyer, drivers should have a mechanic check for leaks and worn brake pads before winter weather arrives.
- Replace Worn Windshield Wipers – Windshield wipers become brittle with age, and they are more likely to tear or break when in use. During winter weather when visibility is often impaired by rain, fog and snow, it’s important to have sturdy wiper blades that will keep the windshield clear and clean.
- Replenish Washer Fluid – With heavy rain, sleet and ice, windshields can quickly become dirty. A layer or dirt and grime will be impossible to remove without washer fluid. Make sure that washer fluid is clean and the fluid reservoir is properly filled. For best protection, keep extra washer fluid in the trunk of the car.
- Replace Broken Lights – Broken or burned out headlights and taillights put drivers at a higher risk for car accidents, especially during bad weather. Without properly working vehicle lights, a driver’s visibility is impaired. Head-on and rear-end collisions with other vehicles are much more likely. An Illinois personal injury lawyer often sees serious head trauma and neck injuries as a result of these types of collisions.
Illinois residents know that winter weather is rather unpredictable. With freezing temperatures, heavy rains, and snow and ice, drivers are faced with hazardous road conditions for several months during the winter season. Winter weather can dump several feet of snow on roadways with little warning. If it rains in freezing temperatures, roads and highways can become icy within hours. To promote safe driving and prevent weather-related accidents, injuries and lawsuits through an Illinois personal injury lawyer, drivers must follow important safety tips that keep them protected on the road.