Recent crashes warn of the dangers of winter driving in Missouri

Winter came early this year in Missouri and motorists in the state are paying the price. After the recent light snowing and cold-snap experienced in mid-Missouri, police responded to nearly 15 accidents in Columbia alone. One three-car crash on Scott blvd caused injuries, although Columbia police initially reported that none appeared serious. Slick conditions on I-44 and I-70 led to two multiple-car accidents. One was a six-car pileup near Danville, the other near Waynesville that led to a chain-reaction involving a dozen cars. There were no reported fatalities in the crashes.

In addition to the increased risk from the weather, the holiday season also means an increased risk for accidents and drunk drivers. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, eight people died on Missouri's roads, up two from last year. In recent years law enforcement has stepped up DUI patrols during these periods, but unfortunately people continue to drive drunk despite clear messages of its danger.

Winter driving can be perilous, especially for novice drivers and others not familiar driving in inclement weather. Increased traffic over holidays and winter vacations provides even more risk with longer road trips and many students behind the wheel.

Negligent driving

Drivers must take into account weather and circumstances when behind the wheel in winter. Simply because a driver is not speeding, hasn't swerved lanes or is not driving drunk does not mean they are not at fault for an accident. A person is negligent if he or she behaves differently than a reasonable person would in similar circumstances. In winter storms, "defensive driving" may be the only reasonable way to drive. This could include driving more slowly than normal and staying well behind the car in front. AAA recommends increasing the normal following distance used to safely break (usually three to four seconds) to eight or even ten seconds during snowy and icy conditions. Accelerating and decelerating slowly are also important, as traction in inclement weather is difficult.

People injured by negligent or drunk drivers are not without legal remedies. People injured in such accidents may be able to obtain compensation for lost wages and medical expenses, among others. Families of people killed in accidents may be able to help ease the burden by obtaining funeral expenses and loss of income. An experienced Missouri personal injury attorney can help to explain the legal options involved in auto accidents that occur in the state.