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Avoiding car crashes in the winter

The Federal Highway Administration reports that nearly 1.3 million car crashes out of the more than 5.7 million that occur each year are weather-related, and winter is arguably the most dangerous season of all. Many drivers in Illinois are familiar with the heavy snow, freezing rain and flooding that it can bring, which is why they should inform themselves about the ways they might avoid an accident during inclement weather.

Ice and black ice are two major factors in wintertime accidents. Even when freezing temperatures have passed, the ground may still be iced over because it takes longer to warm up than the air. Black ice can deceive drivers with its wet appearance, causing them to lose control of their vehicles before they know it. Steering and braking are especially difficult on ice, making wipeouts and rear-end collisions all too common.

Drivers should heed a few safety precautions. For example, they should never slam on their brakes, follow too closely to other vehicles or speed. Drivers should plan their routes in advance. They also may want to keep a snow brush or ice scraper in their cars.

Winterizing a vehicle is essential. This includes checking the function of the heater, defroster, wiper blades, brakes and lights. It also means inspecting the tires, which deflate in cold temperatures, and using oil and antifreeze that can withstand freezing temperatures.

Drivers must maintain control over their vehicles at all times even when road conditions make it difficult. This is why victims of car accidents can file an injury claim against the other driver. All that needs to be proven is the other driver's negligence. If the victim contributed at all to the accident by not wearing a seatbelt, this won't necessarily invalidate the claim. A lawyer can estimate the settlement and proceed to negotiate with the insurance company.

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