Posted: January 22, 2013
Icy roads in Cincinnati contributed to multiple car crashes, serious injuries and the death of a 12 year old on I-275 near Colerain avenue. ( Source) Having just resolved a icy snowy road severe injury crash with co-counsel from another State, I was horrified to see another catastrophic loss from ice and snow.
The law in Ohio is very clear that ice and snow are not an excuse for violation of traffic statutes such as R.C. 4511.21 the assured clear distance statute and R.C. 4511.25 driving on the right half of the roadway so as not to go left of center. The Ohio Supreme Court all the way back in 1967 dealt with this issue.
Two cars were traveling in opposite directions and one car unexpectedly came upon a patch of ice. The driver lost control of his car and went left of center crashing into the car traveling in the opposite direction. The ice did not excuse the vioalation of going left of center.
Ice Does Not Excuse Driver From Going Left of Center
The Court frames the issue as the responsibility of a motorist who fails to comply with a specific safety statute. The defendant relied on the defense of "sudden emergency." However the Court noted every unexpected occurence does not constitute a sudden emergency. An emergency which will relieve the motorist from the duty to comply with a safety statute regulating traffic must arise out of something over which the driver has no control. A self created emergency or one arising over which the driver has control cannot be an excuse. Skidding upon wet icy roadway is a circumstance within the power of the motorist to prevent. Bad road conditions should not excuse violation of 4511.25 and 4511.26, Revised Code. Nor is crashing into the auto or truck in front of you excused by skidding on ice. A violation of R.C. 4511.21 makes a driver at fault and negligent even though icey or snowy road was a contributing factor. Authority and Citations: R.C. 4511.25 Oechsle v. Hart, 12 Ohio St. 2d 29, 231 N.E.2d 306, 41 O.O.2d 215 (1967).