According to the Washington State Patrol, there were at least 15 collisions on I-5 during a recent wind and rainstorm, and that was before it got dark. After dark the number of crashes increases. Every year, when it starts to rain in the fall, collisions and always increase and everyone complains that we all forget how to drive in the rain. But we are not unique for driving worse in the rain. This happens all over the United States.
What causes the increase in collisions when the weather gets worse? Well, according to the U.S. Government’s Road Weather Management Program, there are lots of reasons, but wet roads are the largest factor. 74% of all collisions occur on wet pavement and 46% of those wet pavement crashes happen when it is raining. Surprisingly, only 23% of bad weather crashes are due to snow, sleet or ice, and 3% due to fog.
The study found that rain causes reduced visibility, reduced traction or braking distance, and reduced maneuverability. Another problem from bad weather is that drivers tend to drive slower; so fewer cars can use the roads. We suspect it means that the roads are just more overloaded and just as many people drive during bad weather as good weather. Our area’s highways are already overloaded during good weather, so just imagine how much worse it is in bad weather. Unfortunately, most of us do not have to imagine how bad I-5, SR 9 or SR 2 is during bad weather. As we all know, the two busiest holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, happen during bad weather when people travel to be with family.
According to that same report, 37% of all of injuries or fatalities occur during bad weather driving. The percentage is probably higher, because in lots of collisions people don’t think that they are hurt badly enough to report an injury to the police, only realizing that they are injured a few hours later, when their backs or necks stiffen up and they are in lots of pain. Also, the police do not respond to many collisions in bad weather because they are overwhelmed with other crashes and other problems in which they need to help people.
What can we do to reduce these collisions? The two best ways are not realistic. We can’t change the weather or just not drive. With the lack of good public transportation in Washington, many people need to drive to and from work, to shop and to help family and friends.
While the state and federal governments are looking into ways to help us, it is really up to us to reduce these collisions. First, drive more carefully in bad weather. It means being as patient as possible. Do not change lanes quickly. Stay farther back from the car in front. Look both ways, more than once, when entering a street, changing lanes or going through uncontrolled intersections. Just remember that no one can see as well, stop as easily, or turn as easily on wet roads.
Second, get good windshield wipers, make sure your windshield washer fluids are topped, and make sure your tires and brakes are in good shape.
If you are the victim of a bad driver in bad weather, you can expect that the other driver’s insurance company will try to convince you that it was due to the bad weather, and no one is at fault. But we have all driven in bad weather, and we all don’t get into crashes.
Kadish & Twersky auto accident lawyers have dealt with these bogus defenses many times and can help victims who hear these phony excuses, which are just ways to deny injured people the just compensation that they deserve and to save insurance companies money. If you are injured in an auto accident by a bad driver, in bad weather or not, we can help you deal with the insurance companies.
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