After two recent snowstorms and with temperatures dipping to record lows in the region, it is clear that winter is well underway here in the Delaware Valley. Drivers and pedestrians must now take extra precautions when traveling in slippery conditions. Ice frequently looks like standing water and is especially dangerous to drivers and pedestrians alike because it can be so hard to see. Accordingly, walkers and runners should be extra vigilant for ice. Walkers, bikers, and runners also should be on the lookout for other hazards, including cars, bikes, ATVs, motorcycles, buses, trucks, and other types of traffic. Oftentimes after a snowstorm, sidewalks and shoulders of roads can be blocked by mounds of plowed snow, leaving significantly less room for runners and walkers to traverse. Drivers not only need to be on the lookout for ice, but they also need to be watching for people on the side of the road.
Another potential hazard is ice that forms when snow starts to melt and runoff as water only to refreeze at night or in the early morning when there is no sunlight and the temperature drops. This ice-refreeze situation is especially prevalent in large parking lots of shopping malls and stores where snow is plowed and piled in large piles off to the side. In the daytime when the sun is shining, the snow will begin to melt and, as many of us have seen, there will be a path of water leading from the snowbank into the main parking or driving area. This innocuous-looking trail of melted snow and water frequently refreezes into ice at night or in the morning, and, in turn, becomes a slip hazard for shoppers and pedestrians, and it turns into a car accident risk for drivers. The key thing to keep in mind is to always be prepared for melt-refreeze situations. Wear sturdy shoes with good tread. Make sure your tires have good tread and are not worn down. Know your surroundings and walk or drive carefully. Owners of shopping malls, stores, and restaurants should constantly check for ice in the area where customers and patrons will be walking and driving. Putting down sand or salt can help to prevent ice from forming in such areas. Likewise, homeowners also should take care to prevent ice from forming in areas where guests may be walking.
Drivers are reminded that in New Jersey it is illegal to have snow or ice on your car. Remember to remove all ice and snow from your vehicle before driving, especially from the hood, windows and roof; motorists who fail to do so face fines of $25 to $75 for each offense, regardless of whether the ice and snow is dislodged from the vehicle. If flying ice or snow causes property damage or injury to others, motorists face fines of $200 to $1,000 for each offense. You also could be sued by the injured person, potentially costing you a lot more money than the fine.
As my mother always told me as a child, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be vigilant and safe throughout the winter months and beyond. If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall or in a car accident in New Jersey, please call the Stark & Stark Personal Injury attorneys. Unlike lawyers in many other law firms in New Jersey, exclusively handle personal injury cases.