Is There a Higher Risk of Pedestrian Car Crashes During the Winter Months?
While the temperature drops, the risk of a pedestrian car crashes rises. There are many reasons for this, primarily the fact that the days are shorter, and nights are longer. With winter weather making it harder for drivers to see pedestrians, and pedestrians distracted by the snowy and icy ground, this has the potential to create a recipe for disaster.
Below, we discuss why pedestrians may be at higher risk for a collision with a car during the winter months. We also discuss what victims of these crashes should know about when seeking compensation for damages.
TSR Injury Law has been helping victims of crashes in Minnesota recover compensation for decades. Our firm has obtained more than $1 billion in compensation for injured victims in Minneapolis and throughout the state.
The initial legal consultation is free and there is no obligation for you to hire our firm. There are no upfront fees if a Minneapolis auto accident lawyer takes your case. We do not get paid unless you receive compensation.
Why Pedestrians May Be in More Danger in the Winter
Winter can be a dangerous time to be out on the roads and sidewalks if you’re not aware of your surroundings. The weather, including the low temperature, limited visibility and poor ground conditions makes things much more hazardous.
These are some of the main reasons why winter is a dangerous time to be a pedestrian:
- Weather reduces visibility for drivers and pedestrians – Weather events like snow, rain or fog can make it harder for people to see clearly. Precipitation, such as snow or rain, often makes it look darker outside. Even with windshield wipers and other vehicle safety features working as intended, drivers are often working with limited visibility. It’s also good to keep in mind that many pedestrians out in the cold may be wearing hoods which can limit their peripheral vision, making it harder to see oncoming vehicles.
- People tend to drive too fast, even in bad weather – People with all-wheel drive, especially, tend to think they can still drive faster in bad weather. While winter tires and all-wheel drive helps, driving at fast speeds in bad conditions will make drivers just as susceptible to a crash. Unfortunately, when people are in a hurry, they tend to lose focus on their surroundings, potentially creating a dangerous environment.
- It is harder for pedestrians to escape danger– Whether it’s raining or snowing, or there’s simply ice on the walkways, pedestrians have a much more difficult time dodging incoming danger. Sometimes sidewalks and other walkways are cleared of ice and snow, but oftentimes they are not. This can force some pedestrians to walk in the street, in the snowbank, or dangerously close to the curb. Finding yourself in these scenarios, even briefly, greatly increases the risk of getting hit by a car.
- Drivers and pedestrians are often distracted – Despite bad weather, drivers still text while they are behind the wheel. They may also get distracted by changing the radio station, talking with passengers or adjusting the setting on the heater. However, drivers are not alone, as pedestrians may also be heavily distracted, often times rarely looking up from their phone. When you combine distractions with winter weather, a crash between a car and a pedestrian is even more likely.
Why the Risk Goes Up at Night
In the winter, days are shorter, and nights are longer. That means more pedestrians will be walking closer to dusk and dawn when there’s less visibility. Darkness also impairs your depth perception, making it harder for drivers to judge distances.
Another factor at night is that there are more drunk drivers on the road. If you are walking near the road at night, you need to be extra careful and do your best to stay on sidewalks and other designated walking areas.
Some streets have more streetlights than others. Unfortunately, many drivers do not exercise more caution in areas with few or no streetlights. Pedestrians may assume drivers will be cautious in these areas, but this is a dangerous assumption.
Liability for a Pedestrian vs. Car Crash in Winter
Drivers and pedestrians have an obligation to follow relevant laws and use caution to help prevent a crash. If either party fails to uphold their obligation, they could be held liable for damages that may result.
However, drivers are often the ones held liable for pedestrian collisions. That is because drivers are often better able to prevent crashes. As motor vehicle operators, they are the most likely to be liable for injuries and damages.
Your lawyer is going to need to evaluate the driver’s actions leading up to the crash. Was he or she engaged in some sort of negligent behavior, such as:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Driving through a crosswalk
- Running a red light
- Ignoring a stop sign
- Driving too fast for weather conditions
- Driving a vehicle that was not prepared to be safely operated in winter weather
Pedestrians can also be held liable for a crash in winter weather, such as if they darted out into the street, and a driver did not have any time to prevent a crash.
If you or your loved one was hit by a car as a pedestrian, you may be eligible to seek compensation. Contact TSR Injury Law to discuss what happened and find out how we may be able to assist you.
Tips on Pedestrian Safety in the Wintertime
There are practical steps pedestrians can take to help reduce their risk of a crash during the wintertime. For example, when possible, wear bright-colored clothing and reflective gear to make yourself more visible to drivers. Also, be sure to wear shoes that will give you plenty of traction on snow or ice to prevent you from losing your footing.
While drivers should operate their vehicles defensively, pedestrians should aim to do the same. This means not assuming drivers are going to use the appropriate amount of caution or avoid distractions. Assuming drivers can see you or will be able to stop in time can also lead to dangerous circumstances.
As always, before crossing the street, be sure to look left, right, and then look left again. Even though you have the right of way in a designated crosswalk, you cannot assume drivers will stay out of the crosswalk or heed to pedestrians.
Contact Us to Guide You Through the Legal Process
If you need help after being injured by a negligent driver, give us a call today. Our experienced lawyers are available to discuss how we may be able to assist you during this difficult time.
Our services come with no upfront fees or obligations, and we have a proven track record.
Unsure if you have a case? Call today to learn more: (612) TSR-TIME.