Safe winter driving reduces the chance of Chicago car accidents

Admit it, you’ve done it: Late for work or just plain freezing, you have chipped away a small peephole in your windshield and relied upon the wipers and the defroster to expand your world before you get too far down the road.

As Old Man Winter arrives in the Windy City with a blowing, blustery vengeance, The Chicago winter driving accident lawyers and the personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes want to take this opportunity to remind motorists it’s time to brush up on those safe winter driving habits.

The results of so called “peephole driving” can not only be deadly, they are illegal in Illinois where motorists without a clear windshield can be pulled over and ticketed.

The USA Today recently dubbed it “Peephole Driving Season in the USA.”

Peephole driving not only dramatically reduces a driver’s ability to see, it increases the chances that snow or ice can become dislodged and hit another vehicle or a pedestrian.

“Reasonable people who would never think of leaving their driveway with worn tires or bad brakes will routinely drive their children to school after scraping just a small peephole with which to see out of the vehicle,” Sgt. Scott Kristiansen, of the Buffalo Grove Police Department in suburban Chicago, told the USA Today. “That puts everybody at risk.”

The article notes Illinois is one of several states where drivers can be cited for obstructed vision if excessive ice or snow is obstructing their view of the road.

AAA spokesman David Weinstein told USA Today there are no reliable statistics on the number of people injured or killed by peephole driving. “Often the driver doesn’t know what happened and drives away — Or they do know what happened and know they’re culpable and drive away.”

But the statistics are clear when it comes to fatal Illinois traffic accidents, the last two months of the year, which pairs the beginning of winter driving season with the holiday travel season, is the deadliest time on the road.

In 2008, 92 Illinois drivers were killed in November and 106 were killed in December, the deadliest month of the year, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The vast majority of Illinois traffic fatalities occur in the seven-county region around Chicago.

IDOT statistics show more than 1 in 4 serious accidents occurred on wet, icy or snowy roads. Of the 950 fatalities and 67,739 serious injuries that occurred in accidents where road conditions were noted last year, 140 deaths and 11,434 injuries occurred on wet roads and 82 deaths and 7,583 occurred on icy or snowy roads.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in an accident, the Chicago car accident lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

IDOT Winter Driving Tips:

-Buckle up.
-Be prepared to turn back or seek shelter if conditions become threatening.
-In rain, drive with your headlights on dim.
-In fog, drive with your headlights on dim or use fog lights.
-In dense fog, pull off the road and stop. Do not drive less than 10 mph.
-In rain, fog, snow or sleet, do not overdrive your headlights (be sure of what’s in front of you).
-Stay within the limits of your vision.
-Keep your windows clear of snow and ice — do not proceed until your windshield is defrosted.
-Drive slower and increase following distance. Your speed should be adjusted for conditions and match the flow of traffic.
-Watch for slick spots, especially under bridges and on overpasses or in shaded areas.
-Always be prepared to act, both physically and mentally.
-Start slowly and brake gently in snow or ice. Begin braking early at intersections.
-Ease off the gas or brake if you start to slide. Steer in the direction of the skid until you feel you have regained traction, then straighten your vehicle.
-Pass snowplows with care and only when you can see clear road ahead. You should not try to pass in blowing snow. Allow plenty of distance between you and the plow.
-Be alert when approaching clouds of snow on the road, especially on passing lanes of interstates or freeways. Be alert for what’s ahead.
-Be careful after minor rear-end accidents. If you don’t feel comfortable exiting your vehicle, motion the other driver to follow you to a safe location, such as a service station, fire station or police station.

Contact Information