As we’ve learned in recent years, inclement weather can hit Texas out of nowhere! And, as we head into winter, it’s good to be prepared in case you have to drive in bad weather. If you get in an accident in inclement weather, you should know how to protect yourself and other motorists until help can arrive.
Here are our best tips for driving in bad weather.
Prepare for the Unexpected
The first thing you should do is prepare for cold weather in case you do get stranded on the side of the road after a car accident. A hat, gloves, and a coat will go a long way to keeping you warm if your car won’t start after an accident. It’s also not a bad idea to carry a blanket in your car. This is especially true if you’re going to drive on highways or long distances.
When driving in bad weather, drivers should also have bottled water and a basic emergency first aid kit in their vehicles. Even if you’re in the center of Austin, it may take a while for emergency crews to get to you if there are a lot of car accidents happening all around the city. Having bandages to apply direct pressure on bleeding wounds is a good start to preventing or limiting infections.
Leave Room in Front
Increase your following distance when the weather turns rough. Moisture on the road, like rain, snow, sleet, or ice, can make slowing down or stopping harder, so you want to have that extra space between you and the next car to minimize the chance of an accident.
Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Ready
You should check your brakes and tires before heading into the winter months and throughout the season to ensure you have good tread on the tires and that your brakes are still functioning correctly. Check your windshield wipers and washer fluid, and make sure your headlights are clean. Poor visibility in bad weather due to bad wipers or dirty headlights increases your risk of getting into a car accident. If you must pull over to clear your windshield in inclement weather, you should ensure you’re in a safe place first.
Pull Over if You Need To
Drowsy driving in bad weather isn’t safe, so don’t be afraid to stop and rest for a little bit before continuing your drive. Additionally, sudden inclement weather can be extremely dangerous, and it may be safer to pull over and wait for the worst of it to pass.
What to Do if You Get Into an Accident in Bad Weather
Even with the safe driving tips listed above, you may be unable to avoid an accident. If you get into an accident when driving in bad weather, you should follow the tips below.
Get Safe Fast
Roadway obstructions account for many serious injuries and deaths on Texas roadways each year. If you can move your vehicle from the street, then do. If not, try to warn other motorists that the road is blocked as soon as possible. This may prevent more car accidents.
Obviously, if there are injuries or the roadway is blocked, you need to get emergency crews en route as soon as possible. If there is a high number of car accidents — like there often is in bad weather — emergency workers have to prioritize their calls. Operators will want to know if, and how badly, anyone is hurt, whether the roadway is blocked, and other information to help them set priorities. If you are stuck in inclement weather, you should always follow the instructions of the 911 operators.
If possible, help out anyone injured in the accident — just remember that it is generally not wise to move people who may be injured until emergency crews arrive. A number of “hidden” injuries can be made much worse by moving too quickly or moving in the wrong way after an accident. Don’t try to be a doctor, but do render the basic first aid you are competent to give.
Once everyone is safe, you should start gathering information. Get the name and phone number of witnesses, ask them what they saw, and share your information with them. Unbiased witnesses are often the most important people juries hear from in car accidents. Many times witnesses will start leaving when law enforcement shows up, so it’s important to get their information as soon as you can.
You should also try to take pictures at the scene before any vehicles are moved. Take pictures of the vehicles, of marks on the road, and of debris scattered around the accident scene. Once emergency crews show up, this evidence can quickly be lost.
When taking pictures of accidents in bad weather, make sure to get enough background so that a jury has the perspective of the scene as a whole when they look at the pictures.
Politely Give Information
It is important you also give your name and number to the other driver and to law enforcement. It is not a good idea to argue with the other driver, or anyone else, at the scene. In a calm manner, tell the police what you believe happened. Police are used to dealing with stressed and overly emotional people, so the calmer you are, the better your chances of the officer understanding what you say.
Do not try to convince anyone else of your version of events. We do that for you. Arguing with anyone at the scene will make you seem less reasonable and may paint a negative picture of you should your case end up having to go to trial.
Get Medical Treatment and Keep Records
If you need medical treatment following an accident in bad weather, then get medical treatment. We have clients come in all the time that tell us they held off on getting medical treatment because they thought the pain would go away or an injury would heal itself.
Unfortunately, insurance companies often use this as a basis to deny your claim. They will say you didn’t get medical treatment soon enough, so the treatment you did get was unrelated to the accident. Don’t wait. If you think you need to be checked out by a doctor, then get checked out immediately.
Contact Our Austin Car Accident Attorneys Before Talking to Insurance Adjusters
Insurance adjusters are quick to contact people after car accidents. We’ve had numerous cases where they will call the same day of the accident and ask you for a statement. Sometimes, these statements are recorded, and sometimes they are not. After any traumatic incident, it is often better to take your time and reflect on the event before giving statements that may limit your legal rights or positions.
Contact our Austin Car Accident Attorneys before you give a statement to anyone. Many jurors tend to put a lot of weight on the credibility of those early statements even though you are still processing things and may not yet understand how the accident happened. It is better to get legal advice before giving any statements.
Once they have a statement from you, it is often difficult to get that statement corrected as new information is learned. Contact us right now for a free case evaluation. We will help you investigate and process what happened before you give a statement that could affect your legal rights.