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Don't be snowed- if you cause a crash, you are at fault

By Ryan Hurlbert on January 26th, 2011

When a news reporter quips, "The accident is being blamed on the recent snow storm..." it always gets a chuckle out of me. If you are in an accident, and did the hitting, you are at fault. Road conditions certainly play a role in many accidents, but it is up to you as the driver to adapt to those conditions and safely operate your car. The snow may contribute to your accident, but it was caused by you over-driving the conditions and losing control of your vehicle.

Driving in winter poses many special challenges. If you live in the northern part of the country, it is dark when you leave for work and dark when you head home. Storms can down trees and power lines, making your normal route impassable and forcing detours. Even a little snow can cause big headaches, from traffic snarls to major accidents. As a result, you need to take precautions when the weather changes.

Winter driving precautions

Before winter hits, make sure you have properly inflated tires with good tread. If you live where it snows often, make the investment in dedicated winter tires. On snow, the difference in traction between a good all-season tire and a snow tire is huge. If you have tire chains, practice putting them on when in the comfort of your driveway or garage so you won't have to learn how in the dark... on the side of the road... in a blizzard.

Winter tips for save driving

A few winter weather tricks that can help you drive safely include:

  • Fill your windshield washer tank with fluid that will resist freezing, and changing your wiper blades.
  • Put a bag of kitty litter in your trunk so you can "sand" the road around your tires if you get stuck.

If you are not comfortable driving in the snow, or your car is not prepared, stay home. Take a taxi, a bus, or pull a Regis and phone a friend. For a body shop, this is the most wonderful time of the year; they will be just fine without your car to work on.

If you do the hitting, your auto insurance company is going to charge you with an at-fault accident. You may blame the snow, the rain, or the grime on your windshield that made it hard to see, but the accident is still your fault. No matter what the news anchors say.

Ryan Hurlbert
Ryan Hurlbert lives and works in the Pacific Northwest. As an insurance agent, he produced and presented educational seminars on various topics from insurance basics to strategies for dealing with teen drivers. He has researched and produced marketing materials in the insurance, auto, and financial industries. Ryan majored in business and received his Bachelor of Science degree from Portland State University.
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