The Sometimes Hidden Dangers of Winter Driving

In northern climates like New Jersey, drivers in wintertime face increased hazards that demand heightened awareness. Snowstorms and other heavy precipitation can be difficult enough to navigate while they are in progress, but equally dangerous are the conditions they leave behind — some of which are not completely obvious.

Whether you’re driving in a storm or afterward, be on the alert for these sometimes hidden dangers:

  • Black Ice — This thin, nearly invisible layer of ice forms on roadways when melted snow refreezes. It often builds up on bridges and overpasses. Because of its transparency, drivers may not realize they are on black ice until their vehicles start sliding, skidding or losing control.
  • Freezing rain — This occurs when very cold raindrops hit the road surface and instantly freeze, forming a slippery coating. Like black ice, the glaze caused by freezing rain is almost impossible to detect visually, especially at night.
  • Snow accumulations — When roads are plowed, the snow is pushed to the shoulders and sometimes restricts the traffic lanes. As these mounds melt, they form puddles that can become slipping hazards. What’s more, the puddles can refreeze and form dangerous ice patches.
  • Sheeting water — As snow melts, the run-off can flow onto roadways, causing large areas to be submerged. These sheets of water may not be immediately visible, as they can appear to be the same color as the roadway. They can cause vehicles to hydroplane and possibly to stall.
  • Reduced Visibility — Fog and precipitation can obscure vision, especially when snowstorms are accompanied by high winds. Using high-beam headlights can actually worsen visibility, as these can be reflected back from the snow. In addition, driving on salted roads can produce a spray that adheres to windshields as a film that windshield wipers cannot fully clear.
  • Sun glare — On a nice clear day after a snowstorm, sunlight reflects heavily from the accumulated snow, which can obscure your vision and in the worse cases cause snow blindness.
  • Battery strain — The chemical reactions in a car battery slow down in cold weather, reducing its overall capacity. As a result, the risk of a dead battery increases.
  • Low tire pressure — Colder temperatures cause tire pressures to drop significantly. This may result in your tires not giving you the traction you need on icy and snowy roadways.
  • Other drivers — These may be the worst hazards of all. Some drivers are inexperienced or unprepared for challenging winter road conditions. Defensive driving is essential to anticipate and respond to conduct of drivers who do not exercise reasonable care to deal with these risks.

If you’re involved in a wintertime car accident, you may have options for recovering financial compensation for any injuries or vehicle damage. An experienced automobile accident attorney can advise you of the correct procedures to follow.

Seigel Law in Ridgewood serves auto accident victims in Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties and throughout northern New Jersey. Call us at 201-444-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.

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