Flurry of Late Winter Accidents Shows Need for Caution While Driving New York Roads

Snowy winter road conditions.

While spring has officially sprung, dangerous winter weather continues to plague Orange and Ulster County roadways, leading to a recent rash of car accidents. A wet snow that fell on the first official day of spring led to over ten accidents in the region. Orange County officials reported numerous fender benders along I-84. One accident in the town of Chester involving three cars resulted in injury, and was attributed by Chester Police to be related to the slippery roadways. Other accidents in the region included a pedestrian struck by a driver in Sullivan County, a rollover in the Town of Crawford, and a car sliding off the road and landing in a ditch in the Town of Tuxedo.

This winter has been one of the snowiest and most dangerous that Kingston and its environs has ever seen, and it isn’t over yet. Don’t get caught off-guard by icy and slippery road conditions. Always avoid driving in winter storms if possible. If you have to go out on the road, follow these cold-weather driving tips to stay safe:

Keep Your Vehicle Maintained, and Carry Safety Equipment with You at All Times

Car maintenance becomes even more important during cold weather months. Ensure that hoses are intact, light bulbs are working, and fluids are full. Check to see that tires are always properly inflated and have adequate tread. Always carry certain winter safety equipment with you, including an ice scraper, flares, tire chains, extra antifreeze, matches, a flashlight, a first aid kit, and nonperishable foods such as granola bars, bottled water, and juice boxes. Make sure that your gas tank is always over halfway full, in order to avoid gas line freeze-up.

Give Yourself Additional Time to Make the Trip

In order to avoid feeling under pressure and inclined to drive faster than is safe, allow yourself additional time to get where you’re going. Keep in mind that cars need additional time to come to a stop when driving on ice. Under typical driving conditions, safety advocates advise a three-second distance between yourself and the car in front of you. When roads are slippery, allow additional space to ensure that you can stop in time when the car in front of you comes to a stop. Make all turns and lane changes slowly and carefully, signaling well in advance in order to give cars behind you adequate time to slow down.

Be Especially Careful While Driving on Bridges and Overpasses, and Beware of Black Ice

Bridges and overpasses can freeze before regular roadways. Keep this in mind when driving on those surfaces. Also, keep an eye out for black ice, which appears as a black, shiny spot on the road and can lead you to lose control of your vehicle. Drive slowly, but do not apply your brakes when driving over black ice.

Safely Prepare Your Car for Trips

Make sure that your car has been scraped clean of any snow or ice on windows and mirrors before beginning your trip. Should you heat your car up before starting your drive, ensure that you do not do so in an enclosed area such as a garage. Due to the greater requirements of focus and acute reaction time required of drivers in winter conditions, make sure that you’re not driving while fatigued.

Stay in Your Car in Case of Mechanical Failure

Should you encounter car trouble, make sure you stay in your car as much as possible to preserve heat. Tie a brightly-colored piece of fabric to your antenna to signal to other drivers that you need help. Keep your dome light on (a minimal drain on your car’s battery) to allow other drivers and rescue personnel to see you inside your car.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident on slippery and dangerous Dutchess, Ulster, or Orange County roadways, seek help from the region’s leading advocate for personal injury plaintiffs. Contact the knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys at Basch & Keegan, serving Kingston-area car accident victims. Call (845) 338-8884 for a free consultation on your possible remedies in or out of court.