April Showers Bring Traffic Crashes

Rain and other inclement weather conditions contribute to the occurrence of motor vehicle accidents. Particularly through the spring and summer, rain showers are prevalent. Such weather conditions create road conditions that affect drivers and their vehicles and increase the potential for accidents. Collisions due to rain may result in serious injuries or death for those involved.

Wet Conditions Create Risks

Rain and other such precipitation may cause road hazards that would not otherwise exist, potentially increasing the risk of getting into a car crash for drivers. For instance, drivers may experience slick road surfaces, debris or downed trees, and other potential dangers. Navigating these hazards may create challenges enough for motorists in favorable weather conditions. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 21% of the more than 5.89 million auto accidents that occur each year involve weather-related factors. Such collisions cause an average of 418,000 injuries and almost 5,000 deaths annually.

Weather Effects on Drivers

Wet weather may have impairing effects on drivers and their ability to maintain control of their vehicles. For example, drivers may have decreased visibility due to sheets of rain and blowing dirt, dust, or debris. Due to a reduced ability to see the road in front of them and other vehicles around them, drivers may not see changes in the traveling conditions or road hazards in time to react safely or avoid crashing. High winds, which may accompany rainstorms may make it difficult for drivers to control their vehicles and maintain their lane position.

Weather Effects on Vehicles

Rainy conditions can impair vehicle performance. Tires may not grip the surface of rain-slicked roads as effectively as they do dry roads, which may affect vehicles’ traction. A lack of traction may make it easier for motorists to lose control of their vehicles, as well as cause skidding or hydroplaning. Rain may also affect vehicles’ stability and maneuverability, which may contribute to an increased risk of auto collisions during inclement weather.

Avoiding Wet Weather Accidents

Motorists can take precautions when traveling in rainy conditions to avoid getting into a car or motorcycle crash. Reducing their speeds may help drivers combat the effects of weather conditions on themselves and their cars and maintain control of their vehicles. Turning on their headlights may help drivers increase their visibility to other motorists. Using cruise control when driving on rain-slick surfaces may make drivers lose control of their vehicles, instead of aiding them to steady their speeds as some might think.

Motorists should also know how to react in the event of a skid or hydroplane before potentially encountering such a situation during a rain shower. When skidding, drivers should do their best not to panic and continue to look and steer in the direction they want to go. They should not slam on the brakes as this may only make it more difficult to control their cars. In the event they start to hydroplane, drivers should continue to steer straight and slowly let off their vehicles’ gas pedals until they regain control.