It is that time of year again. Snow is in the forecast for the Tri-Cities and the Greater Vancouver Area, and for the next few months all of B.C will be facing whatever winter throws at us. In winter conditions, it is important for you to drive safely and know both you and your vehicles limitations. ICBC has tips on their website on driving in poor conditions. If you must drive in winter conditions, you should consider their advice:
- Plan ahead and check road and weather conditions on drivebc.ca before heading out
- Invest in winter tries, especially if you live in a hilly area or one where you can expect lots of snow
- Clear off any snow on your vehicle before you head out in order to improve your visibility and make sure other drivers can see your signal lights.
- Reduce your speed and increase your following distance
- If you find yourself hydroplaning or skidding on black ice, you should ease off the accelerator and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. Do not break!
Even the most prudent driver cannot predict everything that can happen on an icy road. Not only are you more likely to lose control of your vehicle, but so are the other drivers around you.
If you are hurt in a car accident in snowy conditions then it is important to know your rights. You have an obligation to adjust your driving behavior according to the weather, and so do others. For an obvious example, you have to be careful passing other cars in bad weather. A driver was found liable when he passed a vehicle when he couldn’t see the lane markings and thought he was in a passing lane when he was not. A less obvious example was a driver who sprayed snow onto a vehicle they were attempting to pass and was found liable for the accidents that resulted.
On the flip side, if you drive reasonably considering the conditions and cause a crash regardless then you may not be found negligent under the legal doctrine of “inevitable accident.” This doctrine applies in situations like a commercial truck driver who was driving slowly and carefully given the icy conditions crashing his vehicle when it hit an unforeseen bump on a bridge.
It is important that you speak to a lawyer in order to better know and understand your liability when you are involved in an accident.
Mike Jones is an associate at Drysdale Bacon McStravick.