A powerful winter storm system has caused hundreds of accidents across the Western U.S. and claimed at least eight lives this past weekend.
The wintry mix, which began Thursday in California, has been linked to three deaths. One body was found near downed power lines, one man died after his vehicles slammed into a tree, and a woman was killed when a tree fell on a parked car.
The stormed moved across most of North Texas with a mix of rain, light freezing rain, light sleet, and in some areas up to three feet of snow. Three deaths were reported in the Texas Panhandle after an auto accident involving nearly a dozen vehicles; several others were seriously injured.
Flagstaff, Ariz., was blanketed with nearly a foot of snow while Phoenix and other parts of central Arizona received between 1½ to 2½ inches of rain over the course of the storm. Firefighers recovered the body of a man who was swept away by high waters in the Santa CruzRiver in the southern part of the state.
A four-year-old girl was killed in a rollover accident after more than a foot of snow that hit New Mexico.
One woman died in one of four accidents in Franklin County, PA; her husband suffered critical injuries. A snow squall (a sudden burst of snow where visibility diminishes significantly very quickly) apparently contributed to accidents.
The snow also affected northern Maryland. Several minor accidents were reported; no injuries were reported.
The National Weather Service predicted the Arctic mass to head south and east and threaten plans for millions of Americans as they prepare to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. By Tuesday, the front is expected to move along the East Coast and could bring 2 to 5 inches of rain from the Carolina’s to Maine with a threat of flash flooding in some areas. Further inland, cities including Knoxville, Cleveland, Buffalo and Syracuse will see mostly snow with some areas getting close to a foot of snow. In addition to the rain and snow, wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph from Tuesday evening through Wednesday night are expected.
During the holiday season, be extra cautious on the roadways. Because winter weather conditions are often unpredictable, drivers must always be prepared. Although the best driving tip may be to stay home, this is often times unrealistic especially during the holidays.
Although with the holidays comes an increased risk of an auto accident, they can be avoided. Now is a good time to remind drivers of a few tips to safely navigate not only through the holidays, but through the winter season.
- Be mindful of ALL traffic. Drivers should always drive defensively in order to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions.
- Make sure your vehicle is stocked with a “winter survival kit” – ice/snow scraper, blankets, warm clothing and gloves, spare tire, antifreeze, non-perishable food items, first aid kit, and a cell phone charger, to name a few.
- Take extra time to clear your vehicle from snow and ice build-up and allow extra time to reach your destination.
- Do not follow too closely. Maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Be careful not to drive in another vehicle’s blind spot.
- Decrease your speed and leave plenty of room to stop. Brake gently to avoid skidding and accelerate slowly to avoid loss of traction and control. Turn slowly, with caution, to avoid sliding.
- Always be alert to the possibility of “black ice” when temperatures are near or below freezing. Remember, it takes longer to stop on ice.
- Don’t use your cruise control or overdrive in slick conditions, and remember that four- and all-wheel drive will not help you to steer or stop better when the roads are icy.
- Avoid distractions such as talking on the phone, texting, eating, changing the radio.
- Don’t drink and drive. Alcohol is the most common cause of auto accidents during the holidays. Designate a driver who will not drink.
- Always wear your seat belt. Do not start the vehicle until all passengers are safely buckled and use car safety seats for children.
Most importantly, be patient, stay alert, slow down, and stay in control. You may prevent an accident; you may save a life, including your own.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!
Mark Bello has thirty-six years experience as a trial lawyer and fourteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.