What do you think is the most dangerous and deadly driving condition? Is it snow or ice? Nope; turns out its rain. So if it seems rainy commutes are the most dangerous times to drive, it's not just your imagination; it's a statistical fact. A new analysis of federal data shows rain causes more driving fatalities than snow in 39 out of 50 states. In fact, car accidents are the deadliest weather hazard in the United States - whether caused by rain, snow, fog or wind - and kill about 7,000 Americans a year.
Over eleven years, California Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have compiled data & can show rain is the single worst weather-related driving condition contributing to auto collisions.
Though reckless driving, distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding still take the top spots in terms of injuries and fatalities, rainfall makes road conditions extremely hazardous. Because of the hazard wet road conditions present, it is more much more dangerous than other conditions such as ice, snow and heavy wind. Surprisingly, even Alaska has more vehicle accidents in the rain than in the snow.
Los Angeles Rainy Day Commutes are More Dangerous
Most likely, you've seen some really appalling driving when it's raining and you might have had your share of close calls. Well, that's because you are certainly more at-risk to be involved in a car crash when it's wet. In fact, compared to dry commutes, there's a drastic disparity between wet and dry circumstances. During arid weather, the number of vehicle collisions tops-out at about 10 incidents per hour. You might be surprised to know that's including rush hour. Auto collisions nearly double when it's raining, reaching almost 15 car accidents per hour. Drivers are especially at high risk during particular hours around the midday, 3 o'clock hour, which is perhaps the most dangerous, followed closely by the noon time, 6 p.m., 7 a.m., and 8 a.m. hours.
So, you might wonder "How exactly is a lack of rain a contributing factor to wet weather accidents?" It's simple. L.A. has a lot of drivers on the road and, ironically, the drought is one of the biggest contributing factors. There is tremendous buildup of roadway oil from the millions of cars on the roads and, when it doesn't rain, none of the oil is washed away. So when it does rain, all the greasy stuff is brought up, creating slippery driving surfaces. This is especially true at the beginning of a rain event, but the slickness lessens somewhat as the oil is washed away even though it doesn't necessarily mean it's any safer to drive.
Rainy Day Commute Safety Tips
When it's raining, the weather can cause quite an inconvenience for many commuters. Having to leave earlier and navigate through such conditions causes timid drivers to take it slow; sometimes a bit too slow. Conversely, normally aggressive drivers tend to be reckless, driving as if it's not raining. The former drive slow enough to backup lanes and cause traffic congestion, while the latter don't regard the weather condition as dangerous and continue to drive aggressively. You can't control what other drivers do, but you can take your own precautions to make sure you safely get to where you are going. When roads become slippery and visibility significantly decreases, follow these rainy day commuter safety tips:
- Slow down and pay attention. Rain brings up oil which creates slick surfaces. Driving slower allows your tires to have better contact and traction with the road;
- Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you. Keep a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front of yours so you have room to come to a stop if that driver suddenly brakes;
- Plan additional travel time for your trip;
- Try to keep your focus on what is going on in front of you. Rain can reduce visibility which makes for dangerous conditions on the road. Do not get distracted by your smart phone, radio or even eating in the car. Keep your eyes and ears on the road and hands on the wheel;
- Avoid sudden braking and sudden stops. During rainy commutes, the slickness of the road will cause your car to skid out of control;
- If your car does skid, turn into the slide. Turn your wheels in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding;
- Defog and defrost your windows. When you're driving in the rain, your visibility can be compromised, so be sure to defog and defrost your windows to improve your ability to see;
- Avoid standing water. If you don't know how deep standing water is, it's best to avoid it altogether;
- Turn your headlights on. In California, headlights are required to be on during darkness, when wipers are in continuous use, or when visibility is less than 1000 feet.
If you've been involved in a rainy-day auto accident, one you didn't cause, please give us a call to learn about your legal rights. Our Los Angeles law firm has decades of experience in dealing with all kinds of vehicle collisions and are happy to assist you whether it's simply advice or to protect your legal rights.