Crashes are not caused by snowy roads

Many drivers may not like the gist of this article, but as we enter the winter driving season, we need to be aware that it is not the snow and icy roads that cause crashes, but rather stupid driving. It happens every year, no matter how much safety experts try to get motorists to slow down when roads are slippery.

Unfortunately, drivers like to blame something or someone else for their mistakes. It makes them feel like it wasn’t their fault. When they skid off the road, they blame snow or ice on the roads. But, was it the snow, or was it really the driver’s fault for driving too fast for the snowy conditions?

Article 1180 of state Vehicle and Traffic Law states: “No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing”. Drivers, this covers it all! Look at the wording here. It speaks about “reasonable and prudent.” It’s not reasonable and prudent to drive fast on slippery roads. Black ice? Still no excuse. If it’s winter and there has been snow, there is potential for black ice the wording of “actual hazards” covers snow and ice on the roads and the words “potential hazards” certainly covers the possibility of black ice or slippery spots, does it not?

Still not convinced that skidding off the road or into another car or object is caused by the snow and not driver error? Well, a little further in article 1180 we find words that include: “The driver of every vehicle shall … drive at an appropriate reduced speed … by reason of weather or highway conditions …”

Being a good driver means complying with article 1180, which means driving slowly enough and carefully enough to not lose control, even under horrible road conditions. Are you good enough?

Just in case you still believe it’s not reasonable to think snow and ice don’t cause crashes, check out this statement: “Rain, snow, fog, sleet, or icy pavements have never caused an accident”, a direct quote from the Loss Control Department of Utica National Insurance Group.

A recent Did You Know article challenged drivers to “be the best driver you can be.” Do you do this all the time, every time, in every type of weather conditions? If you can honestly answer “yes” to this question, then you are indeed a good driver, and if this is true, it won’t be you going off the road in winter conditions, it will be someone else – someone who isn’t such a good driver as he/she thinks they are!

For more articles on traffic law and safety, go to the traffic safety board’s website at and click on “Traffic Safety Board” under departments then look for Did You Know articles under “services.”