Slate’s Law Blog

Don’t Underestimate the Dangers of Icy Roads

New Mexico’s mountainous landscapes are a lovely sight at any time of year, but navigating the mountain roads takes more skill and vigilance than you might expect if you learned to drive in a flat state like Texas or Oklahoma. If you follow the news, you occasionally see stories of drivers who met a terrible fate after taking a curve in the road too quickly or misjudging the width of the road. Meanwhile, ice and snow increase the risk of car accidents, no matter the terrain.  Therefore, snow-covered mountains are a doubly dangerous place to drive, no matter how beautiful they might look from a distance. If you have been injured in a car accident where a car slid on an icy road, contact a Santa Fe motor vehicle accident and car accident lawyer.

New Mexico Department of Transportation Pays Settlement to Family of Icy Road Accident Victim

The New Mexico Tort Claims Act limits the circumstances under which you can file a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the state government or a local government in New Mexico. One of the situations where you can seek damages is if you were injured in a car accident caused by a poorly maintained public road, bridge, culvert, or parking lot.

In 2019, Brent James Horner lost control of his car while driving on an icy stretch of I-25.  His car crashed through a guard rail and slid 30 feet down an embankment. Horner died at age 22 as a result of the accident. His family sued the New Mexico Department of Transportation, alleging that if the state had properly salted and de-iced the road, the accident would not have happened, and Horner would still be alive. In 2023, the New Mexico DOT paid his family a $250,000 settlement. The New Mexico Tort Claims Act limits the settlement amounts for personal injury and wrongful death claims arising from the state’s liability.

How to Stay Safe While Driving in the New Mexico Winter

When possible, avoid driving shortly after a winter storm, before the snow trucks have plowed and de-iced the roads.  In the subsequent days, drive only during the daylight hours so that snow that melted during the day has not re-frozen into a thin layer of ice that is difficult to see. Drive as slowly as possible and avoid crowded roads. Give yourself a lot of time and distance to slow down before you need to stop. Pumping the brakes instead of pressing on them in a sustained manner makes it easier for you to avoid sliding on the ice and losing control of the car. If it starts to snow while you are driving, drive slowly and use your headlights.

Contact Slate Stern About Car Accident Lawsuits

Slate Stern is a personal injury lawyer who represents plaintiffs injured in accidents resulting from dangerous conditions on public roads. Contact Slate Stern in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or call (505)814-1517 to discuss your case.


Photo by max fuchs on Unsplash