4 Bad Winter Driving Habits to Break
New Mexico is known for many things, but bad winter weather is not one of them. New Mexicans are fortunate to have pleasant weather most of the year unless they live in the higher peaks in the northern part of the state. Then, they may experience the first snowfall of the season as early as late summer. Many locations in the state see no snow at all during the winter months. In Albuquerque, most snowfalls require nothing more than a broom to clear them. Occasionally, the city and surrounding suburbs can get up to a foot of snow, but that is the exception rather than the rule.
The infrequent snow can lull Albuquerque drivers into a false sense of security when on the roadways during the winter season. During times when there is snow or ice present on the roadways, some forget driving best practices for safely navigating in these seasonal conditions. Drivers who are negligent and cause injury to others on the roadways can find themselves on the business end of a personal injury lawsuit. Here’s how to avoid the four worst wintertime driving habits that lead to accidents.
Mistake #1: driving with snow on the roof
Everyone is in a hurry these days. Failing to take time to remove snow and ice accumulation from the roof of your vehicle can cause an accident. Some states have made it illegal to drive with snow on your roof. New Mexico is not one of those states, probably because there is not much average snowfall here statewide. Just because it is not illegal does not mean drivers will not be held liable if that snow or ice comes loose and causes an accident with injuries.
Driving with snow or ice on your roof is not just hazardous to other drivers. Pedestrians walking on sidewalks near vehicles can be struck by it if it happens to come loose when they pass by. If you are one of those people who always is in a hurry, commit to leaving 5 minutes early so you have time to properly clean off your vehicle. Spending the extra time can mean the difference between getting to your destination safely and becoming the target of a personal injury lawsuit.
Mistake #2: slamming on the brakes
Vehicles – even those with 4-wheel drive – cannot stop on a dime on icy or snow-covered roadways. Some drivers mistakenly believe they have extra stopping power with 4-wheel drive, and that simply is not the case. Vehicles with 4-wheel drive do not have improved traction or braking, despite what some drivers may think. These misconceptions often lead people to slam on their brakes in winter weather conditions, only to find themselves surprised when they slid or spin into another vehicle.
When driving conditions are dicey, the smartest thing drivers can do is reduce their speed. If you do happen to go into a spin, remember to steer in the direction the rear of your car is sliding. It will help correct the course safely.
Mistake #3: driving too close
Tailgating is never a good idea, regardless of the weather conditions. Following the 2- or 4-second rule gives most drivers ample space – and time – to react to anything happening in front of them on the roadway. Most states recommend this rule in their driving manuals and almost all driving schools, regardless of where they are located, teach the same principle. Drivers who fail to follow at safe distances may be found negligent if they collide with the vehicle in front of them.
Mistake #4: failing to turn on headlights
All New Mexico drivers must use their headlights for 30 minutes after sunrise and 30 minutes before sunsets. Additionally, headlights are required whenever it is raining or in other weather conditions that limit a driver’s vision to less than 1,000 feet in front of them. Snow and freezing rain qualify as conditions that can inhibit your line of sight while behind the wheel. When in doubt, turn them on. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Winter weather conditions and liability
Drivers who fail to follow best practices for wintertime driving in New Mexico and cause injury to pedestrians or other drivers are liable for their actions. Victims who can prove the negligence of another driver caused their injuries can file a personal injury claim. If you were injured by a careless wintertime driver, reach out to our offices today to schedule your free case evaluation.