Colorado’s Eastern Plains experienced the first frost of the season on October 3rd, though the Front Range avoided the freezing drop (thanks to a stratus cloud cover). CBS Denver tells us that the average “first freeze” in Denver occurs on October 7th, thought the earliest freeze on record came September 8, 1962; the latest freeze came November 15, 1944.
We celebrate this local history by encouraging Coloradans to bundle up, enjoy the turning of the seasons, take a deep breath for the holidays, and drive extra-cautiously on snowy or slick roads. We see too many car accidents at our firm come winter, and we’d like to share some guidance for readers.
Weather to Avoid Behind the Wheel
Not that long ago, in the second week of March 2019, a “bomb cyclone” descended on the Denver area and caused hundreds of crashes, including one on Interstate 25 that involved 100+ vehicles. Thousands of flights were grounded, and Colorado police shut down northbound I-25 from Wellington to the Wyoming border. The lesson here is: sometimes, you shouldn’t risk it. In white-out conditions, definitely not.
Here are some other inclement dangers we encourage you to avoid, if at all possible:
- Driving or sideways rain: Pounding rain can make visibility nearly impossible, and dull your ability to hear something coming, as well. Wind that whips your vehicle side to side, especially on elevated roads, may make you lose control of your vehicle or panic and overcompensate, with the same end result.
- Fog or mist: If you can’t see, you can’t drive safety. You cannot merge into traffic without seeing if there are cars coming; you cannot make a blind turn; and you cannot travel if what’s in front of you is blurred by thick fog. Headlights can only go so far.
- Black ice: This hard-to-see danger forms when ice freezes, melts, and re-freezes again. The color is often absolutely clear, so it is hard to see. Black ice often forms on bridges and overpasses, and in the sections of road that fall into shadow repeatedly (for example, beneath tall buildings or trees).
When in doubt, pull over to a safe spot and wait it out. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration tells us that over a million wrecks every year – that’s one in every five – involve weather as a contributing factor. But is it the only factor?
Can Someone Be to Blame for a Weather-Related Crash?
As Denver car accident attorneys, we assure you the answer is yes. Think about it – if a commercial trucker takes to the road, pushing forward to meet a deadline by speeding in a storm, instead of taking shelter – isn’t he the one responsible for his conduct?
The Colorado Assembly clarifies: “Failure of a driver to reduce vehicle speed to a reasonable and prudent level under hazardous conditions is a Class A traffic infraction.” The words “reasonable and prudent” are used in most directives against speeding, and their meaning is clear: it is up to drivers to use good judgment for a variety of situations. And that common sense is what we will be looking at if we pursue a lawsuit against them.
So, if that trucker swings out of control and starts a 10-car pileup, injuring dozens of people, he may receive a $100 fine with a $10 surcharge for the infraction… and be legally sued by the victims. Since commercial trucks usually have liability insurance policies starting at $750,000 the cost will be so much more.
In short, people have to be more careful in hazardous conditions. Even driving “like you normally do” when you know there’s ice on the highway may reach the level of negligence. And if you couldn’t safety perform the driving behavior on a great day, like tailgating, what makes you think it is acceptable when the stakes are much higher? One wrong move, one careless decisions, and people’s lives can be destroyed.
Questions? Call the Tenge Team at (303) 502-5587
Driving through a sprinkling of snow in the evening is no time to be distracted, speed, tailgate, take sharp turns, or neglect to fix those headlights. Whatever you can reasonably do to avoid a foreseeable crash, do it. And if someone else failed to take the time to do the same, crashing into you and causing you catastrophic injuries, call a lawyer at once.
At the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, we handle weather-related accidents and accidents where fault is in dispute that other lawyers wouldn’t touch.
Todd Tenge and his team have nearly 30 years of experience navigating insurance claims in the Denver area. As a full-service law firm, we take care of every aspect of our clients’ cases: from helping them finding a rental car to setting them up with medical specialists that we know and trust to negotiating with health insurers when the dust has settled. When you work with us, you’re treated like family. Call (303) 502-5587 or submit our contact form today to get started.