North Carolina rarely experiences the freezing precipitation that people generally associate with weather-related crash risk, which may give people a false sense of security about their safety on the road. People generally don’t think of rain storms as a safety risk unless the weather becomes extreme and creates a risk of flooding.
Motorists often behave as though rainfall is only a safety concern when it is so heavy as to obscure their vision or cause hydroplaning because of standing water on the road. What many motorists may not realize is that any amount of precipitation may potentially increase their chances of getting into a weather-related car crash.
Wet pavement is a top crash risk factor
There does not even need to be active precipitation falling when someone gets in their car to head to work for their risk of a crash to be higher than normal. According to federal data looking at collisions associated with poor weather, wet pavement is the single most common factor that contributes to collisions. Researchers estimate that approximately 75% of weather-related collisions in the United States occur at times when pavement is wet. Only 47% of the weather-related collisions occurred when there was active rainfall. In other words, even after the rain stops and the clouds clear, an individual’s risk of a crash is still higher than usual.
Obviously, given that rain may fall for entire days or that pavement could stay wet for hours after a storm subsides, drivers can’t simply stay off the roads whenever there is rainfall or wet pavement increasing their crash risk. Still, those who must venture out when the streets are wet or a storm is inbound can reduce their chances of a major wreck by changing their driving habits.
Motorists who drive at slower speeds and who leave a longer stopping distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them will be less likely than those who drive as though everything were normal to avoid a major collision while the pavement is wet. Understanding which factors increase someone’s chance of a major wreck can help motorists embrace safer driving habits and determine who is actually at fault should a crash occur.