Winter Storms and Safe Driving

East Coast Roads, Homes Inundated by Winter Storm Jonas

Just two weeks ago, the east coast—from North Carolina up through New England—was inundated with snow and wind from Winter Storm Jonas, according to a recent report from CNN News. The storm’s path included residents of New York City, Philadelphia, and towns throughout New Jersey, and numerous car accidents occurred. While snow during the winter months is not something new for northeasterners, the amount of precipitation, due in part to the large path of the storm, was nearly record-breaking. As the article points out, up to 85 million people may have been in the path of the winter storm in all.

In a later update to its original article, CNN News reported that 14 people died because of the storm. At least two fatalities involved traffic collisions that took place while the snow and wind were affecting driving conditions. In New York City’s Central Park, more than 25 inches of snow fell—the third-largest snowfall currently on record.

Eleven states in total ended up declaring states of emergency, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and numerous states south. The storm left nearly 133,000 customers without power, and nearly 8,900 flights were initially canceled. Despite the severity of the storm and the continued warnings to remain indoors—officials “urged people not to travel unless necessary”—people nevertheless decided to drive. As a result, more than 1,000 traffic accidents occurred and hundreds of disabled vehicles littered the roadways. On the Pennsylvania Turnpike alone, traffic accidents resulted in a “7-mile-long backlog involving around 500 vehicles.”

In addition to the conditions we typically expect with a winter storm—including snow, winds, and icy surfaces—parts of New Jersey were also at serious risk of flooding. The storm surge damaged homes and left roads completed flooded.

Staying Safe on the Roads in Winter

More snow may be on the way. Therefore, it is important to remember that if there is a winter storm warning, you should not be out on the roads unless you have an emergency. That being said, if you do find yourself on the highway when winter storm conditions strike, there are things you can do to stay safe.

Some of these tips from the Occupational Health & Safety Administration require thinking ahead (and preparing your car for the worst) while others might help you if you get caught in heavy snow and winds unexpectedly:

  • Maintain your car properly for winter driving: check your battery, tire tread, windshield wipers, anti-freeze levels, and no-freeze windshield window fluid levels.
  • Keep a flashlight, jumper cables, abrasive material (like sand or kitty litter), snow shovel, snow brush, ice scraper, flares, and a blanket in your vehicle in case you are stranded on the roadside.
  • If your car stalls, do not overexert your engine and only run your car enough to keep you warm inside.

Winter driving can be dangerous, and it is important to take precautions. If you were injured in a car accident, contact an experienced car accident lawyer to determine your rights.

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