Winter weather is a significant contributor to injuries and death in auto accidents. Days are shorter, so more driving occurs in the dark, and lower temperatures turn rain to sleet, snow and ice and make roads more slippery and hazardous. Heavy snow and sleet also can reduce visibility.
Below are some facts and statistics about winter driving and car accidents to keep in mind as the weather turns colder in the weeks ahead:
Over 70 percent of the nation’s roads are located in snowy regions, which are defined as receiving more than five inches average snowfall annually. Nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population lives in a snowy region of the country. (Federal Highway Administration)
New York City’s Central Park had 57.4 inches of snow in the winter of 2013-14 (National Weather Service)
Each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet. (Federal Highway Administration)
Nearly 20 percent more car accidents in which a pedestrian is killed or seriously injured occur each month in New York City during the November/December winter holiday season, as compared to the monthly average for the rest of the year. Possible explanations for this include increased evening shopping activity, higher pedestrian and vehicle volumes, increased holiday alcohol use and poor winter road conditions. (New York City Pedestrian Safety Study & Action Plan)
Over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy or icy pavement annually. (Federal Highway Administration)
Every year, nearly 900 people are killed and nearly 76,000 people are injured in vehicle crashes during snowfall or sleet. (Federal Highway Administration)
Because drivers are more careful in snow, snow days have fewer fatal crashes than dry days, but more nonfatal-injury crashes and property-damage-only crashes. (American Journal of Public Health, Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Out of the 25 days of the year averaging the most deaths on the nation’s roads from 2007 to 2011, only one was in the winter: January 1. But of the 25 days of the year with the fewest driving deaths, 23 were in the winter. Why? Far fewer miles are driven in the winter. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety via NBC News)
Alcohol consumption and driving after drinking increase during winter holidays.
During Christmas holidays in 2012 (December 21 through 26), 134 people died in drunk driving crashes. This represents 37 percent of traffic deaths, compared with 31 percent on average for the year. Over the New Year holiday (6 p.m. on December 30 to 6 a.m. January 3), 140 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, which is 39 percent of the total people killed in traffic crashes. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)
Potholes are post-winter driving hazards that form when moisture collects in small holes and cracks in the road surface and expands and contracts due to freezing and thawing. This breaks up the pavement and, combined with the weight of passing cars, eventually results in a pothole. A car hitting a pothole can damage a tire or wheel, dislodge wheel weights, and bend or even break suspension components. This damage or the loss of control caused by hitting a pothole can lead to an accident. (AAA)
As you can see, there are a lot of ways to be injured in an accident in the winter months in New York, particularly when the sidewalks and roads are covered with ice or slush. If the carelessness or negligence of another driver caused a serious accident, you may be entitled to seek compensation to cover your medical bills and other expenses.
Speak with the legal team at Hecht, Kleeger and Damashek, P.C. to understand your legal rights. Contact our firm today for a free, no obligation case review.