Inclement weather can tremendously impact traffic and can often lead to accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 21% of road accidents result from poor weather conditions. In addition, around 5,000 people lose their lives in weather-related accidents every year.
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Continue reading to learn more about the impact of weather on car accidents.
Rain and Flooding
Light rain can reduce the average speed on freeways by 13%, whereas heavy rain can reduce it by 16%. Rain also impacts freeway capacity, declining 11% in light rain and around 10% to 30% in heavy rain.
Rainfall can increase travel time and the risk of accidents. That is because rain impacts road visibility and reduces pavement friction. It also contributes to lane obstructions and can cause the lanes to become partially submerged in water. Rain is also one primary cause of hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning occurs when the tires of a vehicle are unable to push water aside due to high water levels on the road and completely lose contact with the pavement, which can lead to road accidents. You can avoid driving through standing water, pay attention to barricades, and use caution when driving on slick roads to prevent accidents during rainfall.
High winds, fog, and heavy rainfall can impact a driver’s visibility on the road. According to statistics from 2022, around 570 crashes resulted from high winds in storms. Strong winds can put extra pressure on the vehicle, affecting its stability and the driver’s control.
If the high wind is pushing the vehicle from behind, it can increase the vehicle’s braking distance. This is why it is crucial to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and road users during high winds.
If a driver speeds in strong winds, the sudden gusts can impact maneuverability, causing the vehicle to drift. Strong winds can sometimes knock over power lines. Drivers should watch out because these wires can be dangerous.
Heat and Humidity
The risk of car accidents can also increase as the weather heats up. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, car accident injuries are more frequent in summer than during any other time of the year.
High heat and humidity can affect multiple parts of a vehicle. For example, high temperatures can cause the vehicle’s engine to overheat. Tire blowouts are also common during warm weather. In cases where the vehicle is traveling at high speeds on a busy road, blowouts can lead to multi-car accidents.
Snow and Sleet
Around 16% of weather-related car accidents occur on snowy roads, 18% due to sleet or snow, and 13% from ice. The stopping distance of vehicles can be increased on icy and snowy roads, making driving much more dangerous. Drivers have to be cautious and maintain a safe distance from other road users to avoid accidents. Tires have little grip on the roads during winter, and making abrupt changes or sudden maneuvers can cause you to lose control, increasing the risk of a road accident.