Written By: Josh Lowell ~
Washington weather is fickle. One day, the sun may be shining, and the birds might be chirping. The next day the clouds return bringing showers to the newly planted flowers. Here in western Washington, we may be used to driving in the mildly inclement weather conditions. That confidence can easily lead to cockiness in even the most experienced of drivers as wet roads are known to be a major cause of fatal crashes.
A study performed by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society between 2006 and 2011 investigated over 125,000 motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Researchers found that a light rain increased the risk of fatality in collisions by over 27%.
Washington drivers may be used to the drizzle but understanding the hazards will help you recognize the dangers lurking on the wet ground. Even a light rain can lead to dangerous driving. Wet roads lead to:
- Diminished Visibility – Driving require substantial focus and the ability to make out potential threats at a moments notice. Rain fall is not only distracting, but windshield wipers may limit focus as well. Having proper functioning headlights and wipers will allow you to see other drivers more easily.
- Hydroplaning – Standing water on the roadway might look peaceful, but it can lead to a complete loss of traction. Even a few inches of water on the road may lead to a skid. Avoid sharp turns, braking, or even changing lanes if traveling through water.
- Limited Traction – Even without standing water, a thin layer of rain reduces overall traction while driving. More importantly, rainwater loosens of oils deposited by passing cars, which creates an even more slippery surface.
While it varies greatly, the average human has a reaction time of about 1.5 seconds. Taking precautions while driving in wet conditions is necessary to maintain safety. While there’s no guaranteed way to avoid water-related collisions, here are a few tips to follow:
- Drive Slowly – The more quickly you drive in difficult conditions the more time you’ll need to stop or avoid a problem emerging in front of your vehicle. Slow down while driving in difficult weather to give yourself the best shot to avoid problems.
- Maintain a Safe Driving Distance – Tailgating can be frustrating from both drivers’ perspectives. Leave more than enough room, however, in wet driving conditions so there is more time to react if a skid occurs.
- Avoid Cruise Control – Cruise control may work wonders on a sunny day on the highway, but in wet city conditions it dramatically increases your chance of crashing. Cruise control allows you to dwindle your concentration, which is key to avoiding standing water and other hazards caused by the rain.
- Don’t panic – If your vehicle starts to skid, slamming on your brakes and over-correcting can be a much worse remedy. Look and steer in the direction you want your car to go in an effort to avoid losing control completely.
No matter how safe drivers are while out on the roads, nobody is perfect and motor vehicle collisions are inevitable. The experienced litigators at Magnuson Lowell PS are available to answer your collision and injury questions free of charge. Call today for a complimentary evaluation!