Five Tips for Safe Holiday Driving

Many people enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Buying gifts, preparing festive holiday meals, and visiting family and friends, both near and far, are all part of the fun. Other highlights of the season include attending events, such as parades, concerts, and services at houses of worship. This increase in activity, while exciting, requires planning so that everything we want to do turns out to be a positive experience for everyone involved.

In addition to making lists of wonderful things to buy and do, it is important that you tune up the transportation these activities require. If you will be using the family car, truck, RV, or motorcycle, make sure that your ride is free of mechanical defects so you can depend on it to get you to your destination. Regardless of whether your home state requires a safety inspection for the type of vehicle you drive or not, a wise motorist will get one anyway.

A qualified mechanic will test components such as signals, lights, brakes, transmission and other fluids, steering, tires, door locks, wipers, windows, and restraints such as seat belts, airbags, and car seats. The safety checklist may also include verifying and having access to your registration, insurance, and VIN. The good news is that knowing you are driving a safe vehicle puts your mind at ease so you can concentrate on driving. This applies throughout the holiday season and beyond.

But even though you may be driving a safe vehicle, it is prudent to remember that roads and highways are crowded during the holidays. The National Safety Council (NSC) notes that, traditionally, many families tend to travel by car during the holidays. Unfortunately, this type of travel also has the highest fatality rate among the primary means of travel.

winter driving

Despite the crowded holiday roadways, you and your loved ones can preserve life and limb while traveling if you (or your designated driver) follow these safe driving tips:

  • Avoid driving while distracted. Distractions include using your cell phone, eating, drinking, and fiddling with your entertainment system while driving. Passengers must keep their noise level down because you must stay focused on your driving at all times.
  • Do not drive while impaired. The NSC notes that alcohol and any type of drug, whether prescription or recreational, seriously affects your ability to drive safely. These substances affect your sight, alertness, motor function, and decision-making. Even if a recreational drug is legal in the state where you are traveling, driving while under its influence is illegal.
  • Check the weather predictions for each part of your journey before getting on the road. If they are not ideal, add more time to your trip. Don’t be tempted to speed on wet or icy roads, become impatient, or drive aggressively just to get to your destination in record time.
  • Always drive in accordance with posted speed limits, even when road conditions are good. What you perceive as a safe speed may not provide you with the actual stopping distance you will need if you have to stop short. If your vehicle is traveling just 30 miles per hour, you will need 75 feet in order to stop. Going 60 miles per hour requires 240 feet of stopping distance.
  • When you are tired, do not drive. Whether you didn’t get enough sleep the night before, or if you suffer from a sleep disorder, staying alert will be almost impossible. You will also be unable to exercise sound judgment. Adults who do not get at least seven hours of sleep have a high risk of being involved in a traffic accident.

According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), there are more traffic fatalities during the holidays than there are at other times of the year. Hopefully, you will exercise these safe driving tips every time you are behind the wheel to avoid a collision. But even if you do, accidents can still happen because other drivers may not exercise caution, especially during the holiday season.

If you do get into a car accident, rely on the attorneys at Robert Wilson & Associates. They have decades of experience in handling all types of vehicle accidents. They will determine whether the other party was at fault. And if so, they can help you get the compensation you need to pay for any injuries and damages you and your passengers have sustained. Call (612) 334-3444 now to speak to a member of our team. You can also chat online or message us to schedule a review of your case. If another driver caused your accident, our attorneys could get you the money you deserve.



How to Prevent Autumn Car Accidents

autumn car accident

Many people are not ready to store their travel gear when the summer season ends. As a matter of fact, autumn’s arrival, which this year occurred on September 22nd, signals that it’s time to hit the highways to seek out vividly-hued trees. Pumpkin picking, hayrides, camping out, and fall festivals abound in many parts of the country. Add moderate temperatures to the mix, and you have crowded highways, as many people tend to travel by car.

But travel during the autumn season, which this year officially ends on December 21st, brings a robust list of driving hazards mixed in with the fun. Following are five autumnal driving situations and tips for overcoming the dangers they present.

Be vigilant when driving in the dark. In autumn, the sun sets earlier, so more cars are still out on the road when it gets dark.  Some people find it difficult to drive in darkness because cars, road markings, and signs are harder to see. Also, it is hard for our eyes to adjust to the glare of illuminated signs, street lamps, and headlights in front of and behind our vehicles.  Fog, which is also known as ground clouds, results in diminished visibility for night driving, but also in the early morning hours.

  • Look at lane markers and road signs when visibility is poor. Do not look directly into oncoming headlights or neon store signs.

Rainy conditions are problematic for drivers in the autumn. Rain occurs in all fifty states, and it causes more traffic accidents than when people drive in snowy and icy conditions. Roads become slick when the oil on their surfaces meets the rain, and standing water can cause hydroplaning. Unaware, some people drive too fast for the conditions, ending up in a collision.

  • Use your headlights, windshield wipers, and defrosters, and always drive under the speed limit.

Autumn heralds the return of children to school and more cars and school buses on the roads. Parents dropping off and picking up children at their schools can cause congestion on local roads because traffic must stop when they are discharging and on-boarding kids. School buses can also cause congestion when their flashing lights signal that all vehicles behind and in front of the bus must stop until the children get on and off the bus safely.

  • Drive at posted speed limits, and come to a full stop when school bus lights are flashing, and the crossing arm is extended. The stopping distance when you are in front of or behind a school bus varies by state. In Minnesota, you’re required to stop your car at least 20’ from the bus.

Those beautiful autumn leaves so beloved by tourists and poets alike can be catalysts for traffic accidents. When leaves become wet, they can be as dangerous as black ice. Be aware that increasing your speed when driving on wet leaves may cause your vehicle to skid, making it difficult to stop before hitting the car in front of you. Leaves can also mask debris and depressions in the road beneath them. Also, some people try to look at the leaves while their vehicles are moving instead of concentrating on their driving.

  • Drive slowly, and stay focused on the road when driving over and near fallen leaves.

Autumn brings with it an increase in animals on and near the roadways. This is due to the fact that autumn is peak breeding season for various species, especially deer. Fall is hunting season as well. Both of these scenarios can result in animals bounding onto the road and colliding with moving vehicles. Small game present driving hazards as well, since many drivers swerve their cars in order to avoid hitting them. They can end up driving down an embankment or hitting another vehicle in the oncoming lane.

  • Drivers should stay alert and drive cautiously in the early morning and at dusk to avoid coming into contact with an animal. These are the times when a lot of them are on or near the roads.

Contact Us

If you follow these autumn driving tips and still end up in a traffic accident, the Minnesota car accident attorneys of Robert Wilson & Associates will be happy to review your case to determine who was at fault. If the other party was responsible for the accident, our law team will work tirelessly to get you the money you deserve for damages to you, your passengers, and your vehicle.

Our team will review your case and provide you with a realistic assessment. Call (612) 334-3444, contact us, or chat with us online. Our firm has been helping people win just compensation for traffic accidents for a quarter of a century. And we can help you too.



Motor home accident injures, kills members of large family

A large extended family of 18 relatives became victims of a tragic auto accident over the weekend after the 17 year-old driver of the motor home lost control and crashed into a ravine in Kansas. The family was on their way back home to Jordan, Minnesota after spending spring break in Texas.

Five family members were killed in the crash, ranging in age from ten to 25 years-old, and 13 others were seriously injured. According to authorities, none of the deceased were wearing their seatbelts.

Investigators have not been able to determine the exact cause for the crash. The teenage driver, who remains in critical condition, had the proper license to operate the motor home and family friends say he was an experienced driver.

Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of those affected by this terrible accident.



Motorcyclist critically injured in accident

A 56 year-old man is in critical condition after he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle in Goodview Sunday afternoon. The accident occurred on Highway 61 and Frank Street as the motorcyclist was crossing the street.

Half a dozen agencies responded to the accident. A helicopter landed on the soccer field of Michael LaCanne Memorial Park and to take the Minnesota City man to Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse.

The driver of the car, a 59 year-old man from Wabasha, suffered minor injuries from the accident. His three passengers, including two children, were not hurt. It is not clear at this time who is at fault.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact the auto accident attorneys of Robert Wilson & Associates at (612) 334-3444 today.



Florida car pileup claims 10 lives

A massive car pileup in Gainesville, Florida over the weekend sent 18 people to the hospital and claimed the lives of 10 people.

The accident happened around 3 am Sunday morning on Interstate 75. Dense fog in the area and smoke from nearby brush fires lowered visibility significantly. Florida Highway Patrol shut down a stretch of the interstate due to the dangerously low levels of visibility for several hours.

Less than a quarter hour after reopening the highway, at least a dozen cars, six tractor-trailers, and a motor home collided. Witnesses recall seeing cars struck multiple times, cars wedged under the tractor-trailers, and cars bursting into flames. It was so difficult to see that rescue crews could only find victims by following the sounds of their screams.

Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of those affected by the accident.



Four injured in Interstate 94 crash

Four people were hurt Sunday morning after a car lost control on an icy highway ramp on Interstate 94 near Moorhead.

According to State Patrol, a 20 year-old female driver was entering Interstate 94 from Highway 336 when she lost control of her vehicle and ran into the rear tires of a semi truck. Her injuries were not life threatening.

Three passengers in her car, ranging in age from 11 to 19 years-old, were also injured. Two girls suffered non-life threatening injuries and another girl’s was classified as minor. The 38 year-old driver of the semi truck and his 29 year-old passenger did not appear to be hurt.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, the Minnesota auto accident attorneys at Robert Wilson & Associates contact our offices today at (612) 334-3444.



NTSB wants all cellphones banned in cars

Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board announced its recommendation to ban all cellphone use while driving, including hands-free devices. The only exception to this ban would be for GPS systems and other driving aid equipment.

The NTSB cites the series of fatal car accidents this year caused by distracted drivers talking or texting on their phones as the source for this proposed nationwide ban. Earlier this year, a Missouri teen caused a multi car pile up that killed two people after sending or receiving 11 text messages in 11 minutes.

Although the NTSB does not have the power to enforce this proposed ban, state and congressional lawmakers as well as federal regulators take the board’s recommendations seriously.

If you or someone you love has been injured or worse by a driver distracted by his or her phone, contact the Minnesota auto accident attorneys of Robert Wilson & Associates by calling (612) 334-3444.



Bad weather caused two fatal accidents

Two different car accidents have claimed two lives today as thick fog, icy roads, and freezing rain plague most of northeastern Minnesota.

Early this morning around 5 am a 52 year-old man crashed in Saint Augusta after his truck skidded off the road and hit a tree. A witness tried to give the man CPR be rescuers pronounced him dead on the scene.

A second accident in Raymond killed a 46 year-old man when he rolled his car.

Eight children have suffered minor injuries after a semi-truck rammed into a school bus while it was making a right turn. The children mostly suffered cuts and bruises.

Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of the victims.



Man pleads guilty for fatal car accident

A 20 year-old man from Stillwater has plead guilty to causing a crash that killed a Minnesota National Guardsman in May 2010. He is charged with felony criminal vehicular homicide.

Drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the car accident. State troopers say the 20 year-old was driving erratically and swerving between traffic on Highway 61 when he caused a multi-car crash.

Since the fatal accident, the driver has been over two more times for exceeding the speed limit by at least 20 miles per hour. He is also facing charges of suspicion of drunk driving and underage drinking.



Four teenagers involved in deadly crash

A car carrying four teenagers was involved in a deadly car crash over the weekend in Madelia. The 16 year-old driver was on Highway 15 when he drifted over the center lane and struck an SUV head-on.

The driver of the SUV, a 65 year-old man, was killed. His wife, 59, was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and is in stable condition. All the passengers in the teen’s car suffered only minor injuries that did not require hospitalization.

No charges have been brought against the young driver at this time. Minnesota State Patrol says it does not believe alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of the victim.