Winter is upon us in Alaska, and that means cold weather and treacherous driving conditions are going to be facts of life for many months. Slippery roads, limited visibility and other winter hazards make it easier to get into a car accident during this time of year, but that doesn’t mean that drivers have any less of a responsibility when it comes to preventing crashes or taking responsibility when they happen.
Alaska car accident victims have the same rights in the winter as they do during the rest of the year. Anyone who is injured in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence can seek financial compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.
Of course, it is much better to prevent accidents from occurring in the first place. Since it is not practical to simply stay inside for the duration of the winter, all Alaska drivers can benefit from keeping the following winter weather driving tips in mind:
- Stay back: It takes longer to stop on slippery roads, so you need to give yourself more space. At a minimum, you want at least two car lengths of following distance for every 10 mph of speed.
- Watch your speed: Don’t feel pressured to drive the speed limit when conditions are rough. Instead, drive at a speed that is reasonable given traffic flow and road conditions.
- Brake carefully: In winter conditions, sudden braking can cause you to lose control. Apply the brakes only when you are driving in a straight line. Always brake gradually, especially if you are driving an older vehicle that does not have anti-lock brakes.
- Look out for ice: This is especially true for black ice, which isn’t easy to see. Be especially vigilant on bridges, underpasses, intersections or particularly shady sections of road. When driving on icy hills, stay aware of your momentum and use a low gear – not the brakes – to slow down.
- Skid safely: If you lose control of your vehicle, take your foot of the gas and gently turn the steering wheel in the same direction as the skid. Never slam on the brakes, but instead apply them gently once you start to regain control of the vehicle. It is a good idea to practice skidding in an empty parking lot until you feel comfortable.
If you get in an accident, you need to take immediate steps to protect yourself, especially if you are in a remote area. Always carry a shovel and sand or cat litter in case your car gets stuck in the snow. If you become stranded, stay with your vehicle. Run the engine periodically to stay warm, but crack a window so you do not get carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you are injured in a car accident caused by another person’s negligence, it is important to take steps to protect your rights. An experienced Anchorage personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and help you obtain fair compensation.