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Car crashes in snow and ice – ranked by speed

November 18, 2019

Ontario’s first snow of the cold season brought chaos on the roads. Hundreds of motor vehicle accidents were reported across the province in one day. The first snow usually catches many people out. Most people are not mentally prepared for slippery conditions; there are also those who wait till the last minute to get winter tires.

The Ontario Provincial Police reported more than 400 accidents on/after the first snowfall of the season!

Car accidents resulting from driving in snow happen for several different reasons. The following is a list of the most common types of car snow accidents; they are ranked by speed. Don’t be fooled, even accidents at seemingly low speeds can be fatal!


Types of winter car accidents (ranked by speed)

  1. Lane drift accidents
  2. Sliding into intersections
  3. Spinning while turning
  4. Low visibility accidents
  5. Loss of control on highway
  6. Highway pile-ups and sideswipes


Did you know that, when you file an auto insurance claim, the insuring company’s claims adjuster categorises your claim as one of more than 40 types of accidents. Fault is allocated based on these categories. Even sliding on ice can be an at-fault accident, depending on how the vehicle was being driven. Consequently, it is imperative that you consult with car accident lawyers in Toronto to guide and assist you in filing the proper claim — one which is based on an informed and experienced understanding of the claims process.


Low speed – Lane drift accidents and side impact

As you accelerate from a standstill at a traffic light or a stop sign, your vehicle does not move forward in a direct line but, instead, slides sideways into the adjoining lane. Such accidents are common on slippery roads, and especially on inclines. Though such accidents typically occur at a low speed, they may result because the entry of your car into an adjacent lane results in an unavoidable collision.

Cause: Stomping on or holding down the accelerator, causing the wheels to spin; insufficient traction on all-season tires


Toronto Star reports up to a 4.1% rise in winter car accidents and a 49% increase in insurance claims in December and January!


Slow speed – Overrunning an intersection

Slam on the brakes, and your car slides past the stop line and into the intersection. This will usually result in a low speed rear-ender, however, it can have serious consequences too. An out-of-control vehicle, sliding on snow and/or ice can impact pedestrians or enter into the path of through traffic moving at much higher speeds. T-boning accidents (a head-on crash into the side of a vehicle) are winter driving accidents that can easily cause serious injuries and even death.

Cause: Braking suddenly or too late; lack of winter tires means reduced grip

pace law blog snow car accident 1


Slow-moderate speed – Running wide or spinning while turning

Making a left or right turn on unplowed roads at excessive speeds can result in an accident. Drivers are often caught off guard when their vehicle proceeds in a straight line – despite the fact that their wheels are turned. This is called ‘understeer’; when the rear tires do not grip, putting the vehicle into a spin is called ‘oversteer.’ In both situations, the loss of control is alarming and extremely frightening, and a collision with an adjacent or parked vehicle often results.

Cause: Taking the turn too quickly; not taking a wider driving line into the turn


Winter tires may not be legally required but dangerous driving in snow because of your all-seasons can still get you a ticket.


Read more

How long do you have to sue an at-fault driver?

Who pays the bills after a car accident?

Getting justice for your injury and loss of property


Moderate/city speed – Loss of control due to loss of visibility

In difficult winter driving conditions, cars and trucks can make driving especially challenging by throwing up slush and snow. At higher speeds, this can obscure your windshield, leaving you ‘driving blind.’  Drivers can be startled when they are suddenly unable to see the road, resulting in them losing control of their vehicles. Loss of visibility also makes drivers incapable of reacting to traffic ahead, which can cause them to rear-end obscured vehicles.

Cause: Tailgating or driving too closely to a car in an adjacent lane; lack of windshield washer fluid


A car accident in winter conditions can often involve a sum of small factors that result in the collision. Seemingly little things – such as not filling up with windshield washer reservoir – can be instrumental in causing an accident. If you have been struck by a driver who did not have winter tires, that can factor into the assessment and determination of fault. In addition to insurance compensation, you may be entitled to pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, due to his or her negligent or dangerous driving. Do not discuss the accident with them or accept a payout!


High speed – Loss of control

Black ice (ice formed on the roads that appears black) is popularly recognized as a serious winter driving threat. However, slush can also cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and result in accidents. At highway speeds, it is very difficult to recover from or overcome instability resulting from vehicles skidding or sliding on black ice or slush. Cars and trucks can skid into the highway median, roadside barriers, or go off the road into a ditch.

Cause: Driving too fast for the conditions; lack of awareness of emergency manoeuvres


High speed – Highway collisions

Multi-car pileups can occur when weather conditions cause traffic flow to stop unexpectedly. Reduced visibility due to fog or snow can also result in drivers having inadequate time to react and stop safely. Sudden loss of control due to slush, while changing lanes or while taking either on- or off-ramps can also cause collisions. High speeds mean a greater risk of serious injury and fatalities.

Cause: Distracted driving or insufficient alertness; overestimating grip levels and driving too fast


What should you do if you have been in a winter car accident?

If you have been involved in a snow driving accident, pull off the road in a safe manner, and bring your vehicle to a stop in a safe location. Call 911 immediately.

Find out what you should and shouldn’t do after a car accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident this winter, contact a Toronto personal injury lawyer at Pace Law Firm. We will help you get accident benefits immediately. Our lawyers regularly help clients secure the compensation they deserve.

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191 The West Mall, Suite 1100
Toronto, ON M9C 5K8
Phone: 1-877-236-3060
Fax: 416-236-1809

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