Just Because the Rainy Season Is Over Doesn’t Mean Wet Roads Aren’t a Safety RiskThough the wettest part of the year has come and gone, we in the Seattle area still get rain. Drivers in the Pacific Northwest know that traveling on wet roads and surfaces is part of life. Though we are used to it, a new study has found that driving on even a mildly wet surface greatly increases your chances of being in a car accident.
The study, published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, analyzed 125,012 fatal car crashes in the mainland 48 states from 2006 to 2011, factoring in how many cars were on the road, to calculate the risk of a fatal accident. The researchers found that even a light drizzle increased the risk of being in a fatal crash by 27%.
Hazards of Wet Roads
If drivers are not prepared for the hazards that come about from wet roads, it can lead to an accident. Dangers that occur while driving in wet weather include:
- Reduced traction: A layer of water on the roadway reduces tire traction, causing cars to slide. Oil from the vehicles that travel the roads can build up on the road, and during the first portion of a rain shower, those surface oils are loosened and create a greasy driving surface that can reduce traction even more.
- Reduced visibility: It’s harder to see when it’s raining. It is important for all drivers to have functioning windshield wipers and headlights, which not only make it easier for you to see the road ahead, but make it easier for other drivers to see you.
- Standing water: Driving through standing water can cause hydroplaning—when the car loses traction and skids across the surface of the road. To avoid hydroplaning in standing water, you should drive around places where water has collected by changing lanes or safely steering around such areas. If you hydroplane, take your foot off the gas and avoid sharp braking or turns.
A Few Safety Tips While Driving on a Slick Road
The study illustrates that the smallest bit of moisture on the road can have deadly consequences. That is why it is important to be aware of the road conditions and the weather, regardless of what time of year it is. Misty weather can dampen the ground, too.
Here are some tips you’ll want to follow the next time you’re caught driving in the rain:
- Avoid cruise control: Most cars made in recent years feature cruise control. Cruise control works well when conditions are dry, but when used on a wet road, your chance of losing control of the vehicle increases substantially. When driving in wet weather, it is imperative that the driver concentrate on every aspect of controlling the vehicle and the factors present outside the vehicle.
- Drive slowly and leave room in front: Slowing down and leaving more space between your car and the car in front of you is a great way to avoid potential accidents. With wet roads increasing the distance it takes to stop, the slower you go, the more time you have to react to hazards.
- How to deal with a skid: If you feel the car begin to skid, continue to look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. Don’t panic and avoid slamming on the brakes. Slamming the brakes or turning the steering wheel to over-correct a turn can cause you to lose control of the vehicle and potentially crash.
Been in a Car Accident? Call Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S.
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If you’ve been in an accident, you don’t have to face it alone. Contact us at (425) 228-3860 to schedule a free consultation. Focus on recovering your health and happiness, and let us handle the rest.
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