Most people understand the idea that inclement weather contributes to crash risk. Wind, lightning, fog and all sorts of precipitation can make it much more difficult to drive safely. However, people sometimes take for granted that rain isn’t a very serious safety concern.
They think that frozen precipitation or other extreme weather is necessary for them to need to adjust their driving practices. However, traffic safety statistics make it clear that drivers do not take rain storms and wet pavement as seriously as they should.
What does traffic crash data say about rainstorm risks?
Rain causes crashes, crash injuries and traffic fatalities
When the roads are wet, drivers will have reduced traction. They could hydroplane, which means their tires totally lose contact with the road. They could also skid or fail to stop when necessary. When looking at federal crash data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the ten years between 2007 and 2016, it’s clear that rain is a serious but often overlooked risk factor.
The NHTSA estimated that 10% of all wrecks occur during the rain, as well as 10% of all traffic-related injuries and 8% of traffic fatalities. Wet pavement after rain is the cause of another 15% of crashes and crash-related injuries, as well as 12% of fatal collisions. Wet pavement is present in 76% of weather-related fatal crashes and 70% of all fatal crashes.
Although rain seems more commonplace, it is a serious hazard that causes more crashes and traffic deaths than many other, seemingly worse weather conditions combined. Snow/sleet, icy pavement and fog are each responsible for only 2% of crash fatalities.
How can you avoid such crashes?
You can use this information about rain and wet pavement collisions to improve your own safety on the road. Making an effort to avoid driving during and after rain storms is a smart move. Of course, that isn’t always an option. If you must drive during or after a storm, extra care will help keep you safe.
Adjusting your driving habits if you must be on the road during the storm is also smart. Maintaining lower speeds, keeping a longer following distance and being very gradual about turning could all help you maintain control over your vehicle. Proper vehicle maintenance, like appropriate tire inflation, can also help.
Recognizing and addressing common car crash risks increase your chances of safely reaching your destination on your next drive.