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The Dangers of Driving in Poor Weather

The Dangers of Driving in Poor WeatherAs the country celebrated Women’s History Month throughout March, it’s important to note that two women are responsible for inventing the modern windshield wiper found on every vehicle. Mary Anderson and Charlotte Bridgwood hold patents for windshield wipers: Anderson for a manually operated wiper blade and Bridgwood for an electrical wiper blade. While it took years for the auto industry to adapt to these inventions, both women have been credited with the development of windshield wiper blades.

According to a feature about the women in Freightwaves, the original windshield wiper blade worked as follows:

Anderson realized that drivers of automobiles experienced similar problems when it rained or snowed; it was then that she had the idea of wiper blades. Her idea included a hand-operated device that had a lever inside the vehicle connected to a spring-loaded arm with a rubber blade that would move across the outside of the windshield. The lever would have a counterweight to ensure the wiper remained in contact with the windshield. Once an operator turned the lever the wiper blade would move across the glass, thereby removing snow, sleet and/or rain. Anderson knew her idea would ensure increased safety for drivers, passengers and pedestrians during inclement weather.

The invention and development of windshield wiper blades have made driving in poor weather much safer over the years. Windshield wipers won’t make driving in inclement weather entirely safe, but they do reduce the chances of being involved in a weather-related car accident in Chicago.

Poor weather can be deadly for motorists

Nationwide data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) shows that every year an average of just under 6,000 people die on United States roads in accidents caused by inclement weather.  An average of 5.8 million accidents occur each year, with roughly 1.2 million of them caused by weather. The 5,376 average deaths per year in motor vehicle accidents due to inclement weather is more than the number of people killed annually by severe weather such as flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning.

The most deadly weather for car accident victims

According to the data compiled by the DOT, which included 10 years’ worth from 2005 to 2014, there were six main weather-related causes of fatal accidents. The statistics are eye-popping:

  • Rain – 573,784 crashes; 2,732 fatalities
  • Wet pavement – 907,831 crashes; 4,488 fatalities
  • Snow and sleet – 210,341 crashes; 739 fatalities
  • Snow and slushy pavement – 174,446 crashes; 538 fatalities
  • Icy roads – 151,944 crashes; 559 fatalities
  • Fog – 28,533 crashes; 495 fatalities

Rain, fog, and snow are all common inclement weather conditions in Illinois that impact your ability to drive safely and see your surroundings. Drivers can struggle with seeing other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and animals during inclement weather events. Aside from visibility issues, snow and ice make the roads of Chicago and the rest of Illinois dangerous to drive on, no matter the time of day.

Preventing accidents during inclement weather

You can be as safe a driver as possible during inclement weather, but your overall safety hinges on the other drivers around you. You are only as safe as the other motorists on the road with you. There are some steps you can take to hopefully prevent accidents during inclement weather, including the following:

  • Replace old windshield wipers: One of the best things you can do is replace old and worn windshield wipers. Wipers do not last forever and can break when in use, and the most inopportune time for that to happen when it is snowing or pouring rain. New wipers will ensure that you retain visibility as much as possible during a storm.
  • Replace broken lights: Check your vehicle regularly for broken or burnt out lights. Make sure you install new headlights, turn signals, and brake lights as soon as you discover that they no longer work.
  • Refill the washer fluid tank: Windshield wipers only work at their peak if there is sufficient washer fluid in the tank. The winter months are the worst for dirty windshields, although spring is also rough when the pollen accumulates. Either way, washer fluid makes it easy to clean your windshield, providing you with a clean line of sight.
  • Replace old and worn tires: You should never drive a vehicle with tires that are torn or have little to no tread left on them. New tires make your vehicle safe to operate in any type of weather. Word and torn tires can increase the chances that your vehicle skids when coming to a stop or suffers a tire blowout, leading to serious accidents.
  • Have an emergency kit in your car: Always travel with an emergency kit in your car, especially in the winter months. Chicago winters can be unforgiving. Your emergency kit should have a bottle of water, cat litter, a first aid kit, blankets, and non-perishable food in the event you get stuck for hours on end on the highway because of ice, a stalled vehicle, or a pileup.
  • Avoid driving during inclement weather: If at all possible, try to avoid driving when inclement weather is in the forecast. It’s understandable that this is not always possible, but don’t go out for the sake of going out when a thunderstorm is in the forecast or a snowstorm is headed for Illinois.

Contact a skilled Chicago lawyer today

Were you injured in a Chicago car accident? The city roads are dangerous for everyone. Conditions deteriorate quickly when inclement weather is involved. You can hold a negligent driver accountable for their actions in a car accident, even if the accident occurred during inclement weather. Call the office of Gainsberg Law, P.C., at 312-600-9585, or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation today.