Although winter is supposedly coming to an end in Calgary, we have had an abnormal amount of snow this winter. We all know what it is like when the snow starts to come down and the roads have not been cleared: there tends to be a lot more accidents and they happen more frequently. This week, we look at how you can stay safe on the roads in the winter, and what you should do if you are in an accident.
Winter Driving and Accidents
In Calgary, car accident rates generally increase by 30% in the winter. Cold weather is also the cause of approximately 12% of traffic fatalities and injuries.
The best way to stay safe on the roads is to take all necessary precautions and be diligent. Snow can come at any time in Calgary, so it is sometimes difficult to be completely ready for winter as it may come suddenly. But in the fall, get your car checked out. This includes:
- Getting your winter tires put on (if you do not have any, look into getting some, they make a huge difference);
- Get your car tuned up if it has not been inspected in a while (including break checks, all system checks, all fluids);
- Repair any chips or cracks in your windshield, as these can become worse with the cold.
It is also important to have the proper supplies in your vehicle, in case you get stranded, your car breaks down, or you are in an accident that could take a while to clear. This includes thermal blankets, an emergency kit (which you can find in stores), snow brushes to get all the snow and ice off your car before you drive, and a collapsible shovel, in case you or anyone else gets stuck in the snow.
Other precautions you can take have to do with your own behaviour:
- Always check the road conditions before you leave the house. Local news stations are continuously updating what the roads are like, as are the radio stations, so stay informed.
- Try to avoid driving at night if the weather is bad. Winter conditions are bad during the day, and are even worse after dark, especially if it is very cold.
- If you have somewhere to be at a specific time, leave a bit earlier to give yourself more time to get there. Even though you may be cautious with your driving, other people may not be.
- Observe road rules: do not speed, even if the roads look clear, there may be black ice which can make a car spin out, or if you need to brake suddenly your car may not actually stop.
- Avoid making sudden turns, unnecessary lane changes, and avoid driving too close to other vehicles. Always give yourself lots of space just in case you are rear-ended, you will have enough space to avoid hitting the car in front of you.
What to do after an accident
We have discussed this before, but in the event of an accident in the winter time, it is important to take extra care. Many accidents, especially in Calgary, are the result of black ice and cars being unable to stop. The most common accidents during the winter include:
- Rear-end collisions (due to following too closely, black ice, or similar);
- Sliding off the road while going through a curve due to high speeds and slippery roads;
- Hitting something due to low visibility;
- Becoming involved in a pile-up or accident because of failing to pay attention to your surroundings (or due to black ice);
- Sliding through intersections due to failing to provide yourself enough time to stop.
Many of these accidents are preventable, but even if they are not, it is important to take care after an accident. If you have been involved in an accident during the winter, make sure you stay clear of the road and get yourself to the shoulder or another safe place immediately, if possible.
Call the police, even if no one is injured. Police track how many accidents have occurred, especially during the winter, and they can also provide you with some safety by blocking off the area and redirecting traffic. If it is safe to do so, stay in your car. With chilly winds and cold temperatures, you do not want to be standing in the cold if you do not have to.
In the event that there is a serious accident, and people may be injured, call 911. If you have been injured, your focus should be to get out of the situation as safely as possible. There are legal recourses you can take later, but after an accident, the most important thing is that everyone is safe.
If you have been in an accident this past winter or in the past two winters, and you want to recover some damages for your injuries and/or damage to your vehicle, contact HMC Lawyers. Our skilled litigators can get you the compensation you are entitled to. To speak to one of our lawyers, call 1-800-480-3534 or contact us online. We represent clients injured in car accidents in Calgary and throughout Alberta.