Articles Posted in Weather Related Accidents

As winter storms begin to pick up throughout the country, and specifically in the northeast, New England drivers should be prepared for the dangerous winter driving conditions that come along with the change in seasons. Winter driving increases the risk of snow and ice on roadways. Winter conditions also affect visibility, and the impacts of high winds can be dangerous to New Hampshire drivers. A woman was killed earlier this month when she crashed her car into a tree that had fallen into the roadway as a result of the high winds in a winter storm.

According to a local news report discussing the tragic accident, the victim was driving on Route 11 in Sunapee on December 1st during a winter storm. As the woman was driving, a tree was blown over by the high winds and fell into the roadway. The 22-year-old woman reportedly crashed her car into the fallen tree and was killed in the impact. This tragic crash demonstrates that New Hampshire drivers should be especially careful when driving during winter conditions.

Defining financial liability for a single-vehicle collision is not always easy. Although no auto insurance coverage is required in our state, most New Hampshire drivers carry bodily injury insurance coverage that will pay damages related to the injury or death of anyone hurt in a crash except for a negligent driver. This type of insurance coverage does not compensate a driver for their own injuries in the event of a single-vehicle accident caused by road conditions. Many New Hampshire drivers also purchase Medpay insurance coverage (sometimes called PIP), which does cover injuries to an at-fault driver that are incurred in a crash, although the coverage is usually limited to less than $10,000 per accident.

Winter drivers in New England are expected to modify their driving habits in response to the road conditions, and often should drive much more slowly and cautiously than would be required if the roads and weather were clear. So far this winter, several significant storms have made for very dangerous roads in the region. A recently published local news report from New Hampshire discusses some of the hazards and risks of winter driving in New England

According to the recently published news report, freezing rain, sleet, and slush have made for very hazardous roads in New Hampshire this month. Drivers are responsible to operate their vehicles in a safe manner regardless of the road conditions. It is not enough to simply follow the posted speed limit without paying attention to the roads. A driver who is traveling at a speed that is unsafe considering the road conditions (even if that speed is lower than the posted limit) can face civil and criminal liability for unsafe driving in the event of a crash.

New Hampshire state law sets the speed limits on state roadways, requiring that drivers travel at a speed slower than the posted speed limit during inclement weather conditions. Because state law mandates a lower speed limit depending upon weather conditions, a driver who is traveling at a dangerous speed (below the speed limit) can still be cited and held liable for a traffic violation as well as negligence in the event of an accident.

It’s a fact of life: driving during winter weather conditions is much more dangerous than when conditions are ideal. And, while most drivers understand this, the rate of weather-related car accidents in New Hampshire remains high.

In fact, just recently, a New Hampshire news report discussed several winter-weather car accidents occurring throughout the state during and after a storm. In total, there were dozens of car accidents, most of which were caused by icy and snowy conditions. For example, a rollover was reported near Exit 2 on Interstate 89, and New Hampshire State Police reported I-89 was “all backed up” due to this, and various other accidents.

What Are Drivers’ Responsibilities During Inclement Weather?

New Hampshire motorists should exercise a higher duty of caution when driving during bad weather conditions. While inclement weather may increase the likelihood of a collision, the weather alone is rarely the cause of an accident. Under New Hampshire traffic laws, drivers must adjust their driving to the pertinent road and weather conditions. Even if an accident occurs because of bad weather, a negligent driver may still be held liable.

Drivers can avoid an inclement weather accident by:

Reducing their speed – Slick road conditions contribute to many New Hampshire weather-related collisions.

Leaving a greater distance between vehicles – Allowing a greater distance between cars can provide motorists with additional time to brake.

Maintaining their vehicles – Drivers should take extra steps to conduct maintenance before the winter season.

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