Among the top causes of preventable accidents, careless driving and failing to properly adjust speed to conditions nears the top of the list. Pioneer Press recently reported about a Minnesota State Patrol officer who witnessed firsthand the damage careless driving can do.
State Trooper Sue Hathaway was responding to an accident on Interstate 494 at 2 a.m. when her squad car was rear-ended by another vehicle. Between 8 a.m. on January 8th and 10 a.m. January 9th, 855 accidents took place on Minnesota’s snow-packed, icy roads. 600 of the accidents were the result of vehicles spinning out of control. The accidents involved minor injuries and fortunately, no one sustained serious injuries. Hathaway was one of the many officers who took to the road to respond to the accidents. Her squad car was parked on the side of the road while a vehicle was being loaded onto a tow truck, when she noticed a vehicle hurtling toward her at 60 miles per hour. A Ford F-150 struck her car, resulting in injuries both to herself and the driver. The Ford F-150 driver was taken to the hospital.
Hathaway was not the only State Trooper struck during poor weather conditions. Another trooper was taken to the hospital when his slow-moving vehicle was struck by a sliding car.
Officers report that the accidents can be attributed to driver’s failure to properly adjust their driving to the poor weather conditions experienced last week. While the weather conditions can render roads less safe, driver behavior is often a major factor in determining whether accidents take place.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety offers some guidelines for drivers who must travel during poor winter conditions. The Office of Traffic Safety explains that while more deadly accidents occur in the summer, wintertime leads to more crashes. In general, drivers shouldn’t take to the road when weather conditions are hazardous. But, if drivers must go out, they should leave home prepared to drive slowly and at safe speeds and adjust to road conditions accordingly. Icy roads can turn any vehicle into a dangerous, uncontrolled projectile. In many cases, had drivers left a safe distance between themselves and state trooper vehicles, the accidents could have been prevented in the first place. Drivers who find themselves skidding, should remain calm, take their foot off the gas, and steer the vehicle in the direction they want to go.
Lt. Tiffany Nielson told Pioneer Press that driver behavior can go a long way to preventing accidents. “When drivers are handling their vehicles too fast for conditions—not allowing sufficient following distances, not scanning their eyes to the horizon—that’s when we’re seeing these vehicles go off the road, property damage, personal injury crashes, and troopers getting hit.”
In general, troopers urge drivers to practice good driving habits in both good and poor conditions. Fortunately, many of the accidents over the past week have not caused serious injury. However, even minor personal injury can result in hefty medical bills. If you’ve suffered a personal injury in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Law Office of Martin T. Montilino can offer you skilled and effective representation to ensure that you recover your losses.