With spring on its way, we’re entering heavy weather season. That brings additional hazards to your driving, as weather events can have a major impact on your crash risk.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, nearly 21% of all crashes occur in adverse weather conditions, such as rain, sleet, fog, ice, snow or high winds. About 5,000 people are killed and approximately 418,000 are injured each year, on average, due to bad weather conditions.
Does bad weather exonerate bad drivers? Not at all. Although weather conditions can be challenging, they create the same known hazards over and over. Drivers have a legal responsibility to drive safely for the conditions, no matter what they are. There are reliable techniques for driving safely, no matter the conditions.
What are some known weather-related dangers?
Using a 10-year crash average for the years 2007 through 2016, the Federal Highway Administration estimates the most dangerous driving conditions. Somewhat surprisingly, the most dangerous is simply wet pavement:
- Wet pavement: 15% of all crashes
- Rain: 10% of all crashes
- Snow/sleet: 4% of all crashes
- Snow/slushy pavement: 4% of all crashes
- Icy pavement: 3% of all crashes
- Fog: 1% of all crashes
One of the reasons wet pavement is so dangerous is that water mixes with the oil and grease already on the roadway to create a super-slick mix. Another reason may be that people don’t perceive wet pavement as very threatening.
Slow down. The most important lesson for driving safely in poor conditions is to slow down. This may help you prevent a crash altogether, and it can definitely reduce the seriousness of a crash.
Avoid driving through water of unknown depth. If you can’t see how deep a puddle is, you don’t know if it will be too deep for your car. It could flood your engine, impair your brakes and lead to hydroplaning, where a layer of water comes between your tires and the pavement.
Avoid potholes. It may seem obvious, but a large pothole can do serious damage to your vehicle, including disabling it in the roadway.
Keep your tires properly inflated. Having full tires is safer and can reduce the damage caused by potholes.
Watch out for warm-weather vehicles and pedestrians. As soon as the snow is gone – and maybe even before – you will see motorcyclists and bikers on the road in the spring. Be vigilant.
Consider your medications. If you take seasonal allergy medicine during the spring, be aware that it could affect your driving. Find out how you react to these medications before you get behind the wheel.
If you are injured in a car crash, contact a personal injury attorney right away for an evaluation of your case.