At any time of the year, drivers need to exercise good judgment behind the wheel. But during the winter months, Nova Scotia’s treacherous weather can increase an individual’s likelihood of being involved in a collision. During the long, cold months of winter weather, operating a vehicle with an abundance of caution may help prevent collisions causing serious injuries, and could even save lives.

In a recent report comparing five years’ worth of data, Nova Scotia’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure reported a 62% increase in vehicle-related fatalities throughout the province. On average, 80 Nova Scotians are killed as the result of a car accident each year, and more than 600 drivers or passengers are hospitalized as a result of injuries they sustain in a motor vehicle collision. 

Car accidents are the leading cause of death among the province’s youth, and Nova Scotians between the ages of 15-24 are the demographic most likely to be seriously injured or killed in a collision. Young drivers are at a higher risk of being involved in an accident due to their lack of experience behind the wheel. This is especially true in the winter months, when hazardous, weather-related driving conditions can put even the most seasoned motorist in danger. 

No matter how many maritime winters a driver has spent navigating snowy conditions and icy roads, weather-related accidents can happen to anyone, and their consequences could be disastrous. By adequately preparing for the season and exercising some extra safety precautions behind the wheel, motorists driving in winter weather may be able to avoid accidents and serious injuries. 

Prepare for Driving in Winter Weather

In Atlantic Canada, the weather can be unpredictable at the best of times. During the winter months, the changeable weather can quickly turn favourable driving conditions to treacherous ones. A sudden drop in temperature can transform rainwater or melted snow on the road into slick black ice. And even on sunny days, a change in wind conditions can cause snow from frozen bodies of water to blow onto nearby roads, creating drifts or whiteout conditions. 

Preparing for any possible weather-related hazard before even getting behind the wheel of a vehicle might help drivers avoid dangerous situations, and could provide life-saving solutions in the event of an accident.

During the transitional period between autumn and winter, changing weather conditions play a role in many vehicle collisions. Towards the end of the autumn, as days grow shorter and temperatures begin to fall, drivers preparing for the winter months ahead often choose to replace their vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires. All-season tires begin to harden in colder weather, which affects their grip. Unprepared drivers who wait too long to switch over to winter tires may find themselves vulnerable to collisions caused by slippery roads and icy conditions during unexpected, early-season temperature drops.

Extremely cold weather can wreak havoc on a car’s battery. Although the average lifespan of a car battery is between three to five years, if not properly maintained, a vehicle’s battery could expire earlier than expected, leaving unprepared drivers stranded in freezing cold weather. Checking the age and condition of a vehicle’s battery before winter weather sets in may help avoid dangerous situations. If your vehicle has previously stalled, replacing the battery as soon as possible may help avoid further issues down the road. Additionally, if your car’s headlights dim when idling but brighten while revving the engine, or if it makes a grinding noise when trying to start, the battery may be close to dying. 

Preparing an emergency supplies kit to store in your vehicle may come in handy, should you find yourself stranded in treacherous winter weather conditions. Vehicles driving in inclement weather, even for short distances, should be equipped with:

  • Jumper cables
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Ice scraper/snow brush
  • Fully charged cell phone
  • Bottled water
  • Granola/energy bars
  • Change of clothing, footwear, warm blankets, etc.

Finally, simple preparations before entering your vehicle like brushing away snow that’s accumulated on the windshield, windows, side mirrors, headlights, and taillights may increase your ability to spot oncoming hazards on the road, and decrease your likelihood of being involved in a collision. 

What to Do Behind the Wheel in Winter Weather

When the season changes from autumn to winter, the sun starts rising later and setting earlier in the day. Darker mornings and evenings create reduced visibility on the road during rush hours. This reduced visibility can lead to vehicle collisions, especially when coupled with inclement weather. 

The surest way to avoid a car accident caused by treacherous winter weather is to stay at home during storms, blizzards, or other unsafe weather events. If, however, it is essential to get behind the wheel during dangerous weather conditions, a few simple safety tips may help avoid an accident. 

Although drivers should always exercise caution and practice safe driving habits while operating their vehicles, in treacherous winter weather, responsible drivers may need to alter their behaviour to try and safely navigate highways and roads. Some examples of winter-related safety precautions include:

  • Keeping an eye out for “black ice”
  • Following traffic at a safe distance
  • Not passing active snow plows clearing the road
  • Adjusting driving speeds to current weather conditions
  • Not using cruise control
  • Not parking on the side of the road
  • And more

How a Car Accident Injury Could Impact Your Life

In the shocking moments following a car accident in treacherous winter weather, it can be difficult to know what actions to take next. If weather and traffic conditions allow you to safely move the vehicles to the side of the road, using cones or flares may help alert oncoming drivers to your position on the shoulder. Once the vehicles have safely been moved out of the path of oncoming traffic, drivers can use their cellphones to have emergency services deployed to the collision scene.

Even if you do not feel like you’ve sustained an injury, seeking immediate medical attention could be crucial. A body in shock produces adrenaline, which might temporarily diminish or delay the pains associated with a serious injury. An emergency medical examination may provide you with an accurate diagnosis of injuries you may have sustained as a result of the accident, and could help you avoid complications in the recovery process due to delayed treatment.

The severity of injuries sustained in weather-related car accidents can range from mild to catastrophic. Injured accident survivors requiring lengthy recovery periods may be unable to return to work for a significant period of time, and therefore, could incur substantial financial losses as a result of their injuries. Car accident victims involved in weather-related collisions might also sustain permanent, immobilizing injuries that diminish their quality of life, and have lasting impacts on their families. 

Oftentimes, when collisions occur during treacherous winter weather, the conditions of the road are merely a circumstance of the accident, and not necessarily its sole cause. If another driver’s negligence on the road during unsafe weather conditions was responsible for a collision in which you sustained injuries, a car accident lawyer may be able to help you recover damages for losses you incurred as a result. 

Call Preszler Injury Lawyers Today

If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver’s reckless behaviour on the road during treacherous winter weather conditions, Preszler Injury Lawyers may be able to provide you with useful legal assistance and advice. To discuss the circumstances of your accident and learn if you’re eligible to pursue damages, contact us today

For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers at 902-405-8282.