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Bad weather and deadly car accidents

November ushers in the rainy season in San Francisco. Inclement weather starts to be a major problem in many parts of the U.S. this time of year. While extreme weather conditions (think hurricanes and tornadoes) inspire headlines, car accidents caused by bad weather kill many more people per year across the country. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, roughly 22 percent of all vehicle crashes involve hazardous weather. That translates to nearly 6,000 deaths per year in accidents caused by rain, fog, snow, ice and other weather phenomena.

Common cause of weather-related crashes

Over the past decade, wet pavement and rain were listed as the most common factors in weather-related crashes. While wet roads make collisions more likely, the real culprit behind many of these crashes is limited visibility. A hard rain or dense fog can take drivers by surprise. Visibility can drop to a few feet with little or no warning. If drivers do not adjust their speed accordingly, rear-end collisions are the likely result. 

How to drive in wet weather

The best driving option when it comes to bad weather is to avoid it. If you have to drive in the rain, there are several steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting into an accident.

  • Slow down – driving faster to get out of the rain is not a good idea.
  • Back off – tailgating is never safe, but in the rain it can be deadly.
  • Pay attention – rain makes distracted driving more dangerous than ever.
  • Don’t panic – when a car starts to skid, you make things worse by jerking the steering wheel or slamming on the brakes. Take you foot off the gas and keep steering the car where you want it to go.

If you can’t see where you are going, it’s time to get off the road. You should take the first opportunity to get yourself out of harm’s way. Your drive may take longer, but it is more likely to end safely. Even if you do everything correctly, you can still be injured by someone else’s negligence.

Source: The Weather Channel, “Weather-Related Car Accidents Far More Deadly Than Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Floods,” by Chris Dolce, 9 November 2016