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Colorado State Patrol and DOT Offer Tips for Winter Driving and Accident Reporting

Winter driving in Colorado, as in other mountain states, can be treacherous, especially for those unfamiliar with the challenges of cold-weather driving. By failing to recognize and account for dangerous storm conditions and snow and ice on the roadways, drivers place themselves and others in jeopardy of serious injury or death.

Sometimes, despite a driver's best efforts to travel safely, the car may spin out of control due to black ice or it may be hit by another out-of-control vehicle. In many cases, however, drivers' careless habits and reckless decisions are to blame for a Denver car accident caused by:

  • Traveling too fast for conditions
  • Drifting on a curve
  • Making unsafe lane changes
  • Failing to slow for traffic signals
  • Driving aggressively
  • Being distracted

To prevent car accidents during the winter, the Colorado Department of Transportation encourages drivers to be prepared for all road conditions, have emergency equipment and use proper driving techniques. The DOT provides travel advisories and reports on road and weather conditions at its website and on its 511 Travel Info telephone line.

Driving slowly is key to maintaining control of a vehicle, as is having tires with good tread. It is also important to preserve visibility, so carry and use windshield wiper fluid that remains liquid at below-freezing temperatures. And when driving near a snowplow, be sure to provide a significant space cushion to allow the driver to do his/her job to keep the roadways clear.

Filing an Accident Report

If a motor vehicle crash does occur in the winter, the Colorado State Patrol requires accidents to be reported as soon as possible. However, depending on the situation, an officer may not be able or required to respond.

During times designated as "Accident Alert," severe weather conditions and a large volume of crashes make it impossible for Colorado law enforcement officers to visit each of the accident scenes. At these times, the officers will respond only if vehicles are disabled, there are severe injuries or fatalities, alcohol or drugs are involved, there is damage to public property or the accident is an alleged hit and run.

For accidents that do not meet the requirements for an in-person response from law enforcement, drivers are required to exchange contact and insurance information and to complete an accident report online or at the local police station.

Following an accident, it is also important to notify the appropriate insurance company and/or agent. It is also wise to consult with an experienced Colorado attorney, especially if an injury or fatality occurred. The lawyer will be able to provide direction for filing a claim, working with an insurance adjuster and pursuing legal action against at-fault parties.

Call 303-980-5511 or toll free 888-980-5511.

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