Winter Weather Road Conditions Spell Peril for North Carolina Motorists

A 19-year-old girl from Hertford County was killed after she reportedly lost control over vehicle after hitting a patch of ice on a recent Tuesday night.
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The fatal crash prompted Gov. Pat McCrory to issue a warning to motorists regarding the dangerous winter weather road conditions.

Officials say the teen in this case was approaching a slight curve. She slid into oncoming traffic, and was struck by a pickup truck traveling the opposite direction. The other driver was unhurt.

She wasn’t speeding. She was wearing her seat belt. And she wasn’t under the influence of any alcohol or drugs. While inexperience might have worked against her in this instance, the fact is many North Carolina drivers are inexperienced when it comes to navigating icy, snowy road conditions.

While temperatures do sometimes dip into freezing conditions, they don’t tend to last long or be anywhere near as severe as what our northern neighbors experience. Some residents in the more mountainous regions of the state may have a bit more snowy-weather skill, but most of us in the low country could use some education winter weather driving.

State officials report there were approximately 1,000 accidents statewide over a recent snow-and-ice-filled weekend. Thankfully, the vast majority of those were not fatal, but the potential is always there, particularly considering North Carolina’s road cleanup efforts tend to be slightly less organized than those in northern states, where such weather is common and routinely expected.

In fact, McCrory was quick to note this winter season will not be like the “typical” winter storm in North Carolina, wherein sun melts the ice and snow in a matter of 24- to 48-hours. We can expect to see temperatures that will remain in the freezing range for days or possibly weeks, and that is going to mean many areas with patches of black ice, with which many drivers in North Carolina are unfamiliar. Although salt trucks have been dispatched and are working overtime, there is often not much that can be done to prevent black ice.

That’s why drivers have to stay on high-alert.

AAA advices the following tips for those taking to the roads in poorer-than-usual conditions this season. Those include:

  • Don’t drive in bad weather unless you absolutely have to. If possible limit driving to daytime hours, when hazards will be more visible.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid a freeze-up.
  • Never use cruise control when you’re driving on a slippery surface, which includes any roadway that is wet, icy or sandy.
  • Make sure your tires have the proper amount of inflation.
  • Maintain enough distance between you and the vehicles ahead of you. If you hit a patch of ice or snow, it’s going to take you longer than you think to stop.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. This is the best way to help avoid skidding, which can lead to a loss of control and an accident.
  • Get familiar with your brakes.
  • Review AAA’s “How to Go Ice and Snow” target=”_blank” brochure for more detailed information.

While inclement weather and poor road conditions can certainly contribute to an accident, our Charlotte injury attorneys recognize that drivers owe a duty to operate their vehicles carefully. That means adjusting speed and maneuvers to current conditions. When they fail to do so, this is a form of negligence, and they may be held liable for any resulting injuries.

Contact the North Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
NC teen dies in car crash due to icy road conditions, Feb. 17, 2015, By Stephanie Ballesteros, 10 On Your Side

More Blog Entries:
Gonsalves v. Li – $1.2M Crash Verdict Reversed for Trial Errors, Feb. 3, 2015, Charlotte Accident Attorney Blog

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