Winter has arrived! Here’s how to stay safe.

Oakville, like the rest of Canada, is prone to bad weather during the winter months. And while seasonal variety is part of the unique charm of Ontario living, there’s no denying that winter brings with it certain health risks. Slick roads and holiday driving are a recipe for traffic disaster, and icy sidewalks cause innumerable slip-and-fall incidents between December and March.

There are steps you can take to avoid injuries this season and, if a winter accident can’t be avoided, you can always contact an Oakville personal injury lawyer at Will Davidson LLP.

Driving

Drivers can take a number of precautions to ensure they get through the winter safely, and chief among those is equipping your car with winter tires. Thanks to their far superior traction compared to all-season tires, winter tires allow you to brake, turn, and accelerate more reliably in slippery conditions.

“Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that actually touches road in winter,” Michelin expert Carl Nadeau told the Globe and Mail in a recent article. “Making sure your vehicle is equipped with the right set of winter tires is integral to your road safety.”

Although most Canadians take the installation of winter tires for granted, a significant number fail to equip their cars come December. According to Michelin, as many as one in three Canadian vehicles rely on all-season tires throughout the winter months.

Even with winter tires, drivers should exercise extreme caution on the roads, especially during bad weather. Richard Warrington, an advanced driving instructor from Comox, BC, told the Globe and Mail that simply slowing down can make you significantly safer.

“Everything needs to slow down,” he said. “It’s not just speed, it’s the way you handle the controls. You don’t accelerate as fast on snow or ice. You don’t brake as hard.”

Outside of the vehicle

Drivers aren’t the only ones at risk of injury during the winter months. According to the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (Toronto Rehab), Ontario emergency rooms treat approximately 21,000 patients with slip-and-fall injuries every winter. And while slipping on ice can seem like a minor incident, there can be serious repercussions, especially for elderly people. If you’ve experienced a slip-and-fall injury, you should contact a Will Davidson Oakville personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

“It’s nasty if your break your hip,” said Toronto Rehab research director Geoff Fernie told the National Post. “You may never be mobile again if you’re older. With head injuries, some people die of it.”

Indeed, a recent Toronto Public Health report revealed that more than 40 per cent of people aged 35-39, and 60 per cent of people 60 or older stay indoors more often as a way to cope with dangerous winter weather.

“A lot of elderly people choose not to go out,” Fernie said. “So they get no exercise and they get depressed and isolated.”

In an effort to get more people outside, Toronto Rehab has developed a rating system to measure the slip-resistance of winter boots.

“For the first time, consumers will have winter slip resistance ratings available when they purchase winter footwear,” the Institute announced. The system uses the innovative “snowflake scale” to rate the boots: if the boot can grip an incline of seven degrees, it is rated one snowflake; if it can climb an 11 degree incline, it earns two snowflakes.

“These people are very seriously on to something,” remarked Barry Wellar, emeritus professor of urban transportation at the University of Ottawa, to the National Post. “Not everybody has proper footwear. They may think they have, but they don’t.”

How can an Oakville personal injury lawyer help?

Whether you have been injured in a winter driving accident or a seemingly innocuous slip-and-fall incident, you may be entitled to compensation to facilitate your recovery. If you have been involved in an accident, contact an Oakville personal injury lawyer today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.

What does it mean to have a “non-life threatening” injury?

In Canada, deaths and serious injuries due to car accidents have been declining for years. In 2009, for example, Transport Canada’s Road Safety in Canada study reported 2,209 fatalities and 11,451”serious” injuries, a 25 per cent decline in both measures compared to the period from 1996 to 2001.

This is certainly good news, but if you talk to an Oakville car accident lawyer, they will remind you that automobile accidents remain a leading cause of death both in Canada and in Ontario specifically. According to preliminary numbers found in the province’s annual road safety report, more than 34,000 fatal and personal injury collisions resulted in 481 deaths and over 47,500 injuries on Ontario’s roads in 2014.

As Transport Canada’s report emphasizes, traffic accidents have an enormous impact on the people involved. “Given the human toll of road crashes and the staggering social and economic cost to our society,” the report reads, “it is surprising that unsafe driving continues.”

There is no silver bullet solution to Canada’s road safety issues, but public awareness of the impacts of unsafe driving is critical. And, as a recent CBC News Newfoundland story articulates, police and the media often fail both injury victims and the wider public in their reporting.

Non-Life-Threatening Injuries

At the heart of the CBC article is the term “non-life-threatening injury,” which is commonly used to describe all manner of injuries that don’t put the victim’s life directly at risk.

When she was in her early 20s, Debbie Templeton lost the use of her legs in a car accident.

“My future, I know, was going to be totally changed because I was now paralyzed, in a wheelchair for life,” Templeton told the CBC.

News reports covering her accident failed to communicate the severity of her injuries, however: “I believe it was a ‘motor-vehicle accident on the Salmonier Line with a non-life-threatening injury,” Templeton explained. “That’s how they described it and they kind of moved on in the news. That was it. I wish my life kind of just moved on as quickly as they said, [that] it was as easy as that – but it’s not.”

As each Oakville car accident lawyer at Will Davidson LLP understands, “non-life-threatening” injuries can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. When applied to a broken back, for instance, the term falls well short of describing the emotional trauma, physical pain, and costly and time consuming rehabilitation that often accompany severe injuries.

The term “non-life-threatening injury” is not employed maliciously or as a means of withholding information. Rather, police use it both to protect the privacy of accident victims, and because the extent of injuries is not always clear. The news media, meanwhile, acquires information regarding car accidents from police reports, and dutifully repeats the phrase. However, as the CBC reports, use of the term hinders the public’s understanding of “the social harm that results from seemingly minor car accidents,” and “obscures the shocking frequency with which lives are destroyed in entirely preventable ways.”

Every police officer, hospital worker, or Oakville car accident lawyer who has worked with road accident victims understands the massive toll a serious injury can have on a person’s life. The term “non-life-threatening injury” trivializes those effects.

If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury in an motor vehicle accident, contact Will Davidson LLP to set up a no-obligation consultation with an Oakville car accident lawyer. Our team can help you understand your next steps forward and help you access the compensation you need for a full, healthy recovery.

Friends and families of traffic accident victims band together

In late October, a group named Friends and Families for Safe Streets (FFSS) launched in Toronto. The organization is comprised of relatives and loved ones of traffic victims who want to ‘put a human face’ on the issue of road safety, according to the Toronto Star. They are the first group of their kind in Canada.

Last year, 64 people died in traffic accidents in Toronto, 38 of whom were pedestrians. It was the highest number of traffic fatalities in the past five years, leading Toronto Police Const. Clint Stibbe to tell the CBC: “We are becoming worse drivers. We are not doing anything to make ourselves better drivers.”

Stibbe, it appears, was correct: as of FFSS’s Oct 25 meeting on the roof of City Hall, 65 road users had been killed in Toronto this year. Thirty-five of those fatalities were pedestrians, and one was a cyclist. If you or a member of your family has been injured in an motor vehicle accident, make sure to contact an Oakville automobile accident lawyer as soon as possible.

“The hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries we’ve seen over the years were all preventable,” said SSFF’s Kasia Briegmann-Samson, who lost her husband, Tom, in a cycling accident in 2012. “These are not numbers. These are lives. And for each individual killed there are scores of family members and friends who are also shattered.”

FFSS is calling for safer road design, tougher penalties on bad drivers, and lower speed limits in an effort to make the city’s streets less dangerous. In July, the City of Toronto announced an $80-million plan to improve road safety which incorporates some of these measures. After originally aiming to reduce injuries by 20 per cent over a decade, the plan now aims to eliminate traffic casualties altogether in accordance with the Vision Zero system, a multi-national road safety project originating in Sweden.

Toronto’s plan includes expanded use of “watch your speed” radar signs, street lighting improvements, m-right-turn-on-red provisions, longer pedestrian crossing times, and the creation of “pedestrian safety corridors,” the Star reported.

“The reality is this was a particularly tough year on our streets. And we need to make sure that we’re actually trying to achieve that Vision Zero,” Toronto City Councillor Mike Layton said at FFSS’s launch. “And if we’re not getting there – and obviously we seem to be going in the opposite direction – then we need to do something about that.”

As an experienced Oakville automobile accident lawyer will understand, a serious personal injury can impact all facets of a person’s life. Besides advocating for improved road safety regulations, Friends and Families for Safe Streets will also provide emotional support to people who have lost friends or family to traffic accidents. Losing a loved one under sudden circumstances presents a litany of challenges, including navigating Ontario’s complicated legal and insurance landscapes.

How can an Oakville automobile accident lawyer help?

Traffic accidents are extremely common: there have been approximately 60,000 traffic collisions in Toronto this year, each with the potential to cause serious injury or death. When you or a member of your family is injured in a traffic accident, it is important to immediately contact an experienced Oakville automobile accident lawyer to discuss the protections and potential compensations available to you. A personal injury lawyer can help you access funds to cover lost wages, medical treatment and rehabilitation services and, if necessary attendant care. Because of the complexity of Ontario’s legal and insurance landscape, accident victims can benefit greatly from the help of an injury lawyer.

If you or a member or someone you love has been hurt in an traffic accident, contact an Oakville automobile accident lawyer at Will Davidson LLP today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.

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