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Safe Driving Tips for Winter Weather

By Jason Bottlinger on February 5, 2018

It’s no secret that winter hits Nebraska hard, and those conditions can make for treacherous roads and hazardous driving. With a little caution and preparation, you can reduce your chances of a collision and keep yourself safe on the road.

That said, always remember: sometimes it’s just not worth going outside. If there are serious whiteout conditions or a blizzard, stay home. Make sure you have enough food and other supplies before a big winter storm hits, so you can wait it out if the weather is really bad. But if you have to venture out, please:

1. Plan Ahead Before Hitting the Road

First, look at the current weather and the forecast for when you’ll be on the road, and check any traffic reports you can find. You should also make sure you have supplies in your vehicle just in case you get stuck in a ditch: bottled water, food, blankets, and a change of clothes.

2. Let Other People Know Your Route

If you are going somewhere new or unusual, or taking a long drive to see friends or family, let other people know where you are going and how long it should take you to get there. Even with a mobile phone, you can still end up stranded or lost in the snow. If you don’t arrive, your family can tell emergency workers where to look for you. This might seem silly, but if the unforeseen does happen, you’ll be happy you did it.

3. Use Your Eyes (and Your Brakes)

Once you’re on the road, you must deal with the snow, ice, and slush. First order of business: slow down. You lose a lot of control over your vehicle in slippery conditions, especially when it comes to stopping. So make sure you drive slower than usual and leave plenty of room between yourself and other vehicles, and between you and pedestrians and people on bicycles (there are some out there).

Even if roads seem clear, watch for ice in the shade of trees, buildings, and other objects. You should also be mindful of ice on bridges; the freezing air underneath can make bridges colder than other roads and create ice even when other areas are clear. Remember to turn into a slide if you do begin losing control of your vehicle, and ease onto your brakes to maintain as much traction as possible.

4. Thank the City of Omaha (But Be Ready for Anything)

Good news if you live in Omaha: the city is ready for the ice and snow. There are more than 100 snow plows ready to clear the streets and 20 companies with 175 trucks contracted to provide plowing for residential roads. Omaha also has about 20 trucks that can spread 100,000 gallons of brine to remove and prevent ice build-up. All of this means that city streets should be in good shape, but even the best efforts can still leave some areas snowy or icy, especially when the weather proves relentless.

5. If You’re Hit, Speak to a Lawyer

At the end of the day, drivers are responsible for controlling their vehicles, even in treacherous, wintery conditions. The driver holds the wheel and pushes the pedals, so he or she is ultimately in control of the vehicle. Most collisions are avoidable in one way or another, even if it means the driver should have stayed home and not braved the hazardous streets. When you get behind the wheel, you assume responsibility for what your vehicle does while you are driving it. 

You may be able to file a civil claim against another driver after a collision, even in winter. On the other hand, you will rarely be able to pursue a claim against the city or state for a road condition that caused your accident. Government bodies often have immunity against such claims, but it never hurts to call a lawyer and have such a claim evaluated by an experienced car wreck lawyer. And all of those government trucks and plows are still required to follow the rules of the road, and the City and State can be held responsible when their drivers cause a wreck.

Before doing anything, consult with an experienced Omaha car accident lawyer to discuss your case and figure out the right course of action. The team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. offers a free consultation, so call (402) 505-8234 if you need us!

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