Collisions While Driving in Smoke

Collisions While Driving in Smoke

San Jose and the greater Bay Area are enveloped in a seemingly impenetrable cloud of smoke from surrounding wildfires. In some areas, visibility is seriously compromised. Climate change will certainly create similar conditions in the years to come, likely even worse than what we have already experienced in terms of haze, smoke, and poor air quality. One of the unforeseen hazards, albeit one of the least problematic hazards for society at large, with these devastating wildfires is that of the poor visibility that the smoke causes, which can result in more traffic collisions. If you were involved in a collision during low visibility due to smoke, fog, or clouds, you need to contact an attorney to ensure that the other party is held responsible.

How Smoke Impacts a Driver’s Ability to React

Smoke from wildfires can become so thick that visibility is reduced to 100 yards or less. In Southern California, conditions are so bad in San Luis Obispo that visibility is reduced to a few blocks, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.  This poses a significant risk, as stopping and reaction time are reduced, low visibility causes disorientation, and it becomes more difficult to see vehicles that do not have lights on, or pedestrians or cyclists who have a right to share the road. Drivers operating their vehicles in periods of low visibility caused by smoke should:

  • Reduce their speed;
  • Be patient;
  • Greatly increase the distance between themselves and other vehicles;
  • Use their headlights;
  • Use turn signals;
  • Plan maneuvers well in advance, such as making a right turn;
  • Watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists; and
  • Stay off their phones.

As it turns out, these are things that most drivers need to focus on in general.

Older Drivers Use Caution During Inclement Weather

Research suggests that older drivers slow down and use more caution than younger drivers during periods of inclement weather or low visibility, as published in Science Direct. However, many drivers, particularly younger or middle age drivers, go the same speed in the smoke, fog, rain, or dark as they do during normal visibility days. This is problematic, as the speed limit is designed to be a safe maximum speed for perfect driving conditions. Anytime there is heavy rain, smoke, or other hazardous weather conditions, drivers are legally required to take these into account, and to adjust their speed and driving behaviors accordingly.

Proving Liability in Smokey Driving Conditions

 As with any traffic collision, you must prove fault, or liability, in order to win your claim. As described earlier, a driver who was following the rules and speed limit may be found at fault because the speed they were driving was not safe for the given conditions. An experienced attorney can help you prove that the other party’s carelessness caused the crash, even if they were not speeding. 

Call Our San Jose Low Visibility Traffic Collision Attorneys For Assistance 

Victims of low visibility traffic collisions caused by negligent drivers need legal assistance with compensation, just like other traffic victims. In fact, the inclement weather conditions may even add complications to your claim. To ensure that you are compensated fairly, call the San Jose personal injury lawyers at the Solution Now Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.

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