BUFFALO, N.Y. – If you’ve ever driven through a lake effect snow storm, you know it’s a challenge. In fact, forecasters and government officials urge drivers to get off the roads and as another lake effect storm pummels Western New York with 8 to 13 inches of snow, driving is nearly impossible.
A Buffalo car accident attorney at Cellino & Barnes says lake effect snow storms create some of the most difficult driving conditions and accidents spike when the snow is coming down.
“Not only is the snow dangerous for drivers, we also have whipping winds that can create near zero visibility conditions in Buffalo,” car accident lawyer Steve Barnes said. “When you’re driving in one of these storms, you’re putting yourself and others at risk.”
Western New York is considered a ‘high risk’ zone for snowy and icy roads. According to a compilation of media reports, icy roads are a factor in as many as 477 fatal accidents each year – and thousands of others are injured in icy or snowy crashes.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 24 percent of all car crashes are weather related and some analysts estimate the economic toll of weather-related crashes at $42 billion.
Surprisingly, there are few studies on the correlation between snow storms and injury rates but researchers in Norway found ‘significant increases’ in both injuries and fatal crashes during the first snowfall of the season.
“For the majority of the year, drivers don’t have to contend with icy or slushy roads,” Barnes said. “When the snow does fall, especially in heavy amounts, it can be difficult to judge how your vehicle will react.”
Rear-end collisions are some of the most common types of accidents during snow storms. Researchers have found that drivers often have difficulty determining the stopping distance due to icy or slushy roads and the result can be a rear-end crash.
Yes, winter weather poses many problems for drivers but attorneys say the courts and insurance companies rarely allow drivers to use ‘weather’ as an excuse.
“When there’s inclement weather, you need to adjust your driving habits,” Barnes said. “Slowing down during a snow storm can make it easier to avoid an accident but the best thing to do is to stay off the roads altogether.”