With winter weather arriving ahead of the official turn of the season, drivers in Illinois are getting their annual crash course in safe driving on slippery roads. Every winter, precipitation turns the streets and highways from a safe place to travel to a dangerous ice rink for vehicles. No matter how proactive the state may be at clearing the roads, there are always accidents related to inclement weather.
You may think that winter crashes are just part of living in Illinois, but law enforcement and insurance companies don’t see it that way. Someone’s driving, not the weather, is almost always the root cause of a collision. It’s important for you to understand that bad weather is not a legal defense against causing a crash.
Drivers should adjust habits to reflect the weather
While there are posted speed limits and similar rules of the road, people tend to act like they can drive the same way all year round. However, the wet, snowy winters in Illinois make summer driving practices much more unsafe. If you would try to take the same roads at the same speeds, regardless of road conditions, you could likely contribute to an accident because you can’t control your vehicle as well on slick surfaces.
When law enforcement officers look at the scene of a crash, they won’t just determine whether you were following posted speed limits and the letter of the law. They will also consider whether you adequately adjusted your driving habits to reflect the road conditions. If there are signs of driving in a manner that is unsafe, that can impact the police report.
Law enforcement will expect you to slow down and leave more space between your vehicle and others on the road. Failing to do this can result in an allocation of partial responsibility for a crash, even if weather is a major contributing factor.
Holding irresponsible drivers accountable for their decisions
If you wind up in a crash caused by another driver during the winter months, you may feel tempted to extend some courtesy and forgiveness to the other driver. After all, inclement weather does increase the risk of a crash. However, drivers must adapt how they drive to weather conditions, and if they do not, they are responsible for the issues that result.
Just because you understand why the other person caused the crash doesn’t mean they aren’t legally responsible. This is particularly true when a collision results in significant injuries or property damage. If police cite the other driver responsible for the collision, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. It may be time to review your situation and determine if seeking compensation is in your best interest.