Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Winter driving conditions are dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 17% of all injury and death traffic accidents occur during winter driving conditions.  It is important to learn how to drive safely in winter conditions.

Snow, ice, sleet, obscured vision, difficult stopping and turning conditions can make for a challenge for motorists. Here are some tips from Chalat Hatten & Banker to help you drive more safely in the winter months.

Prepare

Have the shop test your battery.  Replace it if its failing. Before you drive in winter conditions do a walk around the car.  Check your headlights, both low and hi-beams.  Check your turn signals, brake lights, 4-ways and interior lights.  Newer cars have “Daytime running lights,” or DRL’s. These are essentially full-time low beam illuminations which make it easier to be seen even during daytime hours.  Pack an emergency bag with warm clothes, gloves and hats, a flashlight, and some water and snack foods so you can get by if you are stuck in traffic or stuck in a snowbank. Make sure you have all the essentials in your car in case you get stuck. A snow shovel and a bag of salt/kitty litter can assist you to dig your wheels out of a ditch and give them traction on the snow/ice. Keep a blanket and bottles of water in your car in case you get stuck and are waiting for help. Other things to have in your car include jumper cables, flashlights, spare tire, window washer fluid and a snow scraper, spare clothes, tow rope and flares.

What conditions are your tires in?  We at the firm usually switch to snow tires at Halloween and go back to road tires on Memorial Day.  This is expensive, but its less expensive than an accident. Make sure your tires are in good condition – this is an important part of the “walk around,” look for worn treads, make sure one tire isn’t flatter than the other 3. Consider checking your spare situation.  Some modern cars don’t come with spares or come with small emergency tires only.  Be mentally prepared to change a tire.  Figure out how to get to the spare, the jack and the tire iron/lug wrench, and how to change the tire on your own.

Check your wiper blades both front and if you’re in a station wagon or SUV, the wiper for the back window. Making sure your windshield wipers and defrosters are working is vital to staying safe while driving in the snow. Right maintained windshield wipers are a necessity; there are also extra blades available that are better fitted to help clear snow from your window shield.

Check your window washer fluid.  This is easy, it’s the plastic container just under the hood.

If you are in an EV, make sure you’re charged up before winter driving.  The battery load on your EV is much higher in cold weather, and you’ll see a decrease in range and remaining time if you are not topped off for a charge.

In gasoline or hybrid cars, the same holds true.  You will see a decrease in MPG because of stop and go traffic, a high load on the engine and battery, and lost traction. Fill it up before you start your journey.

Decrease Your Speed While Driving

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 24% of annual weather-related auto crashes occur on snowy, icy, or slushy roads. And more than 1,300 people are killed on icy or snowy road conditions annually. The most significant thing to do when driving on slippery roads is to slow down. Stopping on slippery roads may take 2 to 10 times longer to stop compared to stopping on a dry road. Be sure to increase your following distance of another vehicle to 8 – 10 seconds.

Don’t Not Use Cruise Control

You should never use cruise control when driving in winter conditions. You want to be able to have manual control over your vehicle, having cruise control on reduces the driver’s reaction time if you happen to hit a patch of ice and can make it more likely to get in an accident.

Be Mindful of Snowplows

Snowplows have the absolute right of way.  Stay back, don’t pass unless there is clearly an open lane on the snowplow’s left. Don’t tailgate a snowplow. Plows drop de-icer and sand to treat Colorado highways during a snowstorm. Drivers who follow too close risk damage to their vehicle from the de-icer and sand. Snowplows can also stop abruptly. Motorists should leave plenty of room (at least 3-4 car lengths from a plow) to avoid a potentially serious collision.  never pass a snowplow on the right. Snowplows are designed to push the snow, slush, and other damaging debris like rocks to the right of a roadway. Attempting to pass a plow on the right could not only damage a vehicle but also obstruct visibility.

THE DENVER CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT CHALAT HATTEN & BANKER

For more than three decades, the attorneys at Chalat Hatten & Banker PC have helped individuals and their families obtain justice and compensation after a car accident. If you’ve been injured in a car, truck, pedestrian, bus, or motorcycle accident, please call the car accident attorneys at Chalat Hatten & Banker at 720-809-7382 or send us an email below for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case. We serve clients around the state of Colorado, including Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder, Aurora, Littleton, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo.

Winter Weather Driving Tips: Prepare Your Vehicle | NHTSA

What Are The Safest Cars, SUVs, and Trucks for 2022?

Car buyers who consider safety a must-have feature can now choose from an even greater variety, according to the 2022 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick award list.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released its annual list of cars with top scores in crash tests and other safety evaluations. For the 2022 model year, a total of 101 models qualified for a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, up from 90 models in 2021, and 64 in 2020. For the Top Safety Pick Plus category, 65 models made the cut in 10 categories, up from 49 models in 2021, and 23 in 2020. Of the 65 Top Safety Pick+ vehicles, 28 sedans and hatchbacks made the list

2022 marks the year with a record number of cars, trucks and SUVs receiving the automotive industry’s most rigorous safety award for their ability to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe. And it comes at a critical time in the wake of record traffic and pedestrian fatalities in 2020 and 2021.

See the full list below.

Notable Highlights: 2022 IIHS Top Safety Picks

Hyundai Motor Group, consisting of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis, led all manufacturers with 21 total combined, including 11 “plus” award winners. The Volkswagen Group’s Volkswagen and Audi brands received 11 awards, and Volvo with 10.

Last year, the Ram 1500 crew cab was the sole pickup truck to get an IIHS designation. But as pickup trucks grow in popularity and sales, so does the number of those named Top Safety Picks in 2022. This year, the Ram once again makes the list, along with the Ford F-150 (extended cab and crew cab) and surprisingly, the all-new Hyundai Santa Cruz.

Electric vehicle shoppers have more IIHS safety picks to choose from in 2022 as well. All-electric models that earned a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus include the Audi E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, and Volkswagen ID.4.

Additionally, there were several models that made the cut with certain qualifiers. For example, the Genesis G70, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Hyundai Santa Fe made the list but only for models built after a particular month. Others, like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and GLE-Class, made the cut only with optional front crash protection.

HOW ARE IIHS TOP SAFETY PICKS DETERMINED?

Each year, the IIHS conducts tests to determine how vehicles fare in two aspects of safety: crashworthiness and crash avoidance/mitigation. It also evaluates other elements of vehicle safety, such as headlight ratings.

The IIHS awarded winners in 11 size categories, from small cars to large pickups.

To earn Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick awards, vehicles must earn “Good” ratings in all six standardized IIHS crashworthiness tests:

Additionally, all award winners must offer front crash prevention that earns a “Superior” or “Advanced” rating in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations.

What’s the difference between Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+?

Headlights, a previously overlooked yet very important safety feature, are the differentiator between earning a Top Safety Pick and a Top Safety Pick+ designation. For 2022, Top Safety Pick award winners must offer “Good” or “Acceptable” headlights as an option. Whereas Top Safety Pick+ award winners must have “Good” or “Acceptable” headlights as standard equipment.

The Safest Cars, SUVs, and Trucks for 2022: IIHS

Here’s a look at the safest new cars, SUVs, and trucks on the market, according to IIHS

2022 MODELS EARNING TOP SAFETY PICK

Audi: A4, A5 Sportback, Q8
BMW: 2 Series Gran Coupe, 3 Series, X5
Buick: Encore GX
Ford: Escape, Edge, Mustang Mach-E, F-150 (crew cab and extended cab)
Honda: CR-V
Hyundai: Elantra, Santa Cruz, Sonata, Venue
Kia: Sorento, Soul*, Sportage*, Telluride
Lexus: RX, UX
Lincoln: Aviator, Corsair, Nautilus
Mercedes-Benz: GLC-Class*
Nissan: Sentra
Ram: 1500 (crew cab)*
Subaru: Crosstrek*, Impreza hatchback*
Toyota: Avalon, C-HR, Venza

*Award applies to models equipped with optional front crash prevention technology

2022 MODELS EARNING TOP SAFETY PICK+

Acura: MDX, RDX, TLX
Audi: A6, A6 Allroad, A7, E-Tron, E-Tron Sportback, Q5, Q5 Sportback
Cadillac: XT6
Chevrolet: Trailblazer
Chrysler: Pacifica
Ford: Bronco Sport, Explorer
Genesis: G70 (examples built after June 2021), G80, G90, GV70, GV80
Honda: Accord, Civic (hatchback and sedan), Insight, Odyssey
Hyundai: Nexo, Palisade, Santa Fe, Tucson
Kia: K5, Stinger
Lexus: ES 350, IS
Mazda: Mazda3 (hatchback and sedan), CX-30, CX-5, CX-9
Mercedes-Benz: E-Class*, GLE-Class*
Mitsubishi: Outlander (examples built after June 2021)
Nissan: Altima, Maxima, Murano, Rogue
Subaru: Ascent, Crosstrek Hybrid, Legacy, Outback
Tesla: Model 3, Model Y
Toyota: Camry, Highlander, Sienna
Volkswagen: ID.4
Volvo: C40 Recharge, S60, S60 Recharge, V60 Cross Country, XC40, XC40 Recharge Twin, XC60, XC60 Recharge, XC90, XC90 Recharge

For the list of Top Safety Picks sorted out by category/type/size, visit the IIHS website

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Denver

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident in Colorado contact our car accident lawyers in Denver, Colorado for a free consultation.

Have You Been In A Bicycle Accident?

BICYCLE SAFETY

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a bicycle accident, please call us. We have extensive experience in bicycle cases. We have represented riders who were injured by negligent drivers in accidents which occurred on city streets as well as on roadways. In the city street cases, we need to prove a municipal code violation, whereas the roadway incidents invoke state law. We have also won cases on behalf of riders who were injured in accidents within City and State parks, cycling events, and bike versus bike crashes. We have experience with the investigation and data collection needed for winning a bicyclist’s case. Our lawyers are knowledgeable about the complex insurance issues in bicycling cases. These will involve auto insurance in the MVA cases, and homeowners’ policies in a dispute between riders. We love to ride ourselves, and from that experience we have a close understanding of the rules and dynamics of bicycling, both on the road and on a trail.

MORE RIDERS ARE ON THE STREETS

Bicycle sales and riding are on the increase since March 2020. Several reasons drive the change. In the pandemic, commuters favor bicycles over public transit. Gyms and recreation centers have been closed or operate at reduced capacity. A bike ride is a good workout. The change also comes from hard times – job loss, collapse of small businesses, juggling school age children at home along with remote work—bicycles are cheap in comparison to the expense of a car. Even before the pandemic, bicycle riding in Denver was on the increase. The 2019 Commuter Survey by the Downtown Denver Partnership showed that 9.2% of Downtown Denver Employees commute by bicycle, 1.0% use a scooter or moped. The bike mode share has doubled since 2013. Young people drive the increase; 14% of Millennials and Gen Z employees’ bike to work. The survey spurred Denver’s build-out of 206 miles of on-street bike lanes to give bicyclists a safe space.

SAFE SPACES ARE NOT ALWAYS SAFE

Subject to common-sense exceptions, “A person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle has all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any” motor vehicle governed by Colorado law and Municipal Ordinances. According to the United States Department of Transportation there were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes nationwide in 2018. Colorado reported 20 bicycle MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident) fatalities in 2018. These represented 3.4% of the total Colorado MVA deaths (632) in 2018. Using the same ratio, we can estimate that in 2020, 110 bicyclists will sustain serious injuries in Colorado due to accidents involving a motor vehicle.

WE WANT YOU TO AVOID BEING A STATISTIC

Bicycle Safety falls under the jurisdiction of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Here is a quick highlight of NHTSA’s safety brochure along with some of our own advice based upon our experience and our case files.

VISIBILITY: Wear a helmet, one that fits, and wear it correctly. Wear high visibility clothing. Even in daylight use a white front light and a rear red light.

EQUIPMENT CHECK: Ride a bike that fits and works; check the brakes; the gears; if using clip-ons make sure the pedals and your cleats match and are properly adjusted for a quick release. Tires matter, when worn, change them. If flat, inflate them.

NO DISTRACTIONS: Do not wear earphones when riding. Don’t ride and text or do other irresponsible things with your mobile device that take your eyes off the road and your mind off what you are doing.

OBEY TRAFFIC LAWS AND SIGNAGE: Use common sense. According to NHTSA, a large percentage of crashes can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other. Don’t run stop signs or red lights. Do not interfere with pedestrians’ rights of way. When on a busy street with following traffic, signal your turn.

RIDE WITH THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC: Ride single file except on paths or roadways designated for exclusive bike use.

BICYCLE LIABILITY LAW

The most serious accidents are bicycle versus motor vehicle accidents. Drivers often are distracted as they begin a turn onto a street, and they don’t see or yield to a bicyclist who has the right of way. Drivers also do not give cyclists much room on a bike lane or shoulder and hit and injure the bicyclist who was lawfully in the bike lane or clearly on the roadway shoulder. Typically, these accidents leave evidence which we can use to prove fault, such as scuff marks on the road, tell-tale damage to either the body-work or right-side mirror of the involved vehicle. We have also tracked down eyewitnesses using 911 taped calls with number tracing. To prove the case, we need to show a driving infraction, just as we would in a car-on-car crash case. In these cases, we look to the liability coverage of the at-fault driver. Plus, the injured party’s under or uninsured motorist coverage from their own auto policy may provide additional money damages. Bike on bike accidents occur in crowded city parks or during events where many participants can be caught up in a crowd with other riders who have no experience riding in a large field of cyclists. These can be very serious accidents. In a rider versus rider case your auto insurance will not provide coverage for either the injured or the at-fault rider. Your homeowners’ insurance might provide coverage if you are the at-fault rider. The event itself is typically protected by a waiver. On behalf of the injured rider we need to show that the at-fault rider either violated a statute, a municipal ordinance, or was riding unsafely.

Back to School Safety

It’s back to school time. We’re sharing the road with children. They’re walking to school, riding bikes or riding in yellow school buses. Children have reduced standards of care. They are only expected to act as safely as children of the same age, education and experience. That’s the law.

Adult drivers must obey signage and roadway markings for school zones. 20 MPH is the limit. Go more slowly if the circumstances require it. Children can “dart out” in the road at any given moment.

Yellow school buses have specific rights to stop, pick up children and to unload children. While stopped, school buses have special marker lights that you must obey. DO NOT pass a yellow school bus that is stopped dropping off children, it is a serious traffic violation. There are important rules and tips that we can all follow to ensure safety on the road for young commuters.

According to the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus related incidents are 4-7 years old and they’re walking to or from their bus. In 2020, 54 people were killed and 4,800 were injured in school-bus related crashes.

A motorist illegally passing a stopped school bus is subject to a very heavy criminal charge. Never pass a bus from either direction if it is stopped to load or unload children. Remember that the area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children. Give children enough space to safely enter and exit the bus and always be cautious of children around you, as they are often unpredictable and tend to ignore hazards.

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles on the road, but young cyclists require extra space and attention. Be mindful that children sharing the road with motorists are not able to properly determine traffic conditions as well as an adult can. Young cyclists are more likely to turn in front of you without looking or signaling. Remember to be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods.

If you’re dropping children off at school, please remember the following: