Drivers’ brains struggle to process early-winter snow, ice

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While snow and ice generally creates travel issues, why do motorists seem to handle the road conditions better during late winter than early winter?

According to one psychology expert, Ohio drivers must actually relearn how to drive in winter weather every year. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater psychology professor David Havas explains:

“Snow and ice change the sensory-motor dynamics – and your brain needs time to learn (or relearn) them. Very often, the world changes faster than the brain learns, creating a learning lag.”

While this psychological phenomenon helps explain why the first snowfalls each winter seem to bring out the worst instances of driving, it does not change things in the legal realm.

Each driver is responsible for his or her automobile and injuries it causes to others – including his or her own passengers. If visibility and traction is compromised from winter weather, motorists must change their driving methods to accommodate. An auto accident victim cannot sue Mother Nature or Old Man Winter, the negligent driver is the one bearing legal culpability.

Havas does provide a useful method for improving your early-winter driving: After the first few snowfalls, go find a traffic-free area and focus on how your car handles, accelerates and brakes. Paying attention to just your car and the road helps speed up the winter-driving relearning process.

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