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The Psychology Behind “Bad” Early-Winter Driving

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2014 | Auto Accidents

It is a common complaint from New York drivers every November and December when there is snow on the ground: “Does everyone forget how to drive this time of year!?”

Yes, according to University of Wisconsin-Whitewater psychology professor David Havas.

“Snow and ice change the sensory-motor dynamics – and your brain needs time to learn (or relearn) them,” Havas explained to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Snow and ice impact the way an automobile handles, accelerates and brakes, but human beings’ brains aren’t wired to immediately handle this change – even with drivers who have decades of winter-driving experience, explains Havas. Drivers don’t immediately adapt to an abrupt change in driving conditions, it may take weeks.

The situation is not hopeless, however. Havas suggests that early-winter drivers find a traffic-free place to brake, accelerate and turn after the snow falls. It speeds up the relearning process and helps drivers adapt to the change in conditions.

From a legal perspective, the weather is not an excuse for causing an accident. One cannot sue mother nature for creating slippery roads.

It is the responsibility of each driver to change his or her driving habits to accommodate less-than-ideal driving conditions. In winter, this usually involves driving more slowly and allowing a greater braking distance between you and the car in front of you.

New York drivers should expect greater travel times this time of year. If someone fails to respect the driving conditions and causes you or a family member harm, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney before accepting an offer from the insurance company.


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