Rain and Car Accidents
Snow and ice are mainstays in the Pittsburgh area, but federal data suggests they’re not the worst deadly driving hazard. While inclement weather, be it rain, snow, or fog, causes 7000 deaths throughout the country each year, rain actually causes more driving deaths than snow in 39 states.
The Auto Insurance Center analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found that rain, on average, causes more car accidents and driving-related deaths than snow, even in Pennsylvania. In fact, the only states where snow contributed to more deaths were deep in the country’s Midwest, in states like South Dakota and Minnesota. Even Alaska has more rain-related driving deaths than those related to snow.
Why Is Rain So Dangerous?
There are a few reasons why rain might be more dangerous than snow on our nations’ roadways. Some popular theories include:
- Rain is more common. The study does not control for the fact that many more states receive rain than snow, and through more months of the year. One reason why rain might be more deadly is simply because it occurs more.
- People aren’t as careful driving in rain. Since rain is more common, drivers are less likely to use caution in these inclement weather conditions. Many drivers fail to realize how slick roadways can become during a rainstorm. This applies to more than just torrential rainfall; even a short period of light rain can make roadways slick enough to pose a threat, especially at high speeds.
- Infrequent rain can make roadways more slippery. Long, dry periods can create residue buildups on the roadways, with oil and other vehicular debris making the roadways slicker than usual.
- Impaired visibility. Rain can create serious issues with a driver’s perception and field of vision. Combined with other conditions like fog and high winds, driving in the rain can be hazardous, even for the most experienced drivers.
Can I Be At-Fault for an Accident Caused by the Rain?
Many drivers assume they cannot be responsible for forces of nature – for example, torrential rainstorms that cause you to hydroplane and hit another driver. Unfortunately, you may still be liable for any damages that result from a rain-related car accident. Pennsylvania law requires that you use “reasonable care” with regard to the operation of your motor vehicle – and that includes driving in inclement weather conditions.
Being a “good driver,” at least in the eyes of the insurance companies, means that you will drive in a safe manner, despite any road conditions that may hinder your ability to drive. For example, perhaps your hydroplaning is an indication that you drove too fast for conditions. As another example, you may be liable for damages incurred from a rear end accident – even if the roads were so slick you couldn’t avoid slamming into the other driver.
In other words, insurance companies don’t look at the weather when making decisions about claims. They expect you to use reasonable care and adjust your driving habits accordingly for inclement conditions.
How to Prevent a Rain Related Accident
In order to prevent rain-related car accidents, we recommend taking the following steps:
- Take it slow. Speeding plays a significant role in weather-related crashes, as it can lead to hydroplaning and other loss of vehicle control.
- Keep a safe following distance. Give plenty of space for the vehicle in front of you, since it will take longer to stop under slick road conditions.
In bad storms, we recommend not driving at all until the inclement weather passes. Follow all guidelines and suggestions from the National Weather Service in your area. By following these simple tips, you can avoid liability from any damages incurred in a rain-related accident.
If you’re involved in a rain-related car accident, contact the Pittsburgh car accident lawyers at Hal Waldman & Associates today.