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Inclement weather and its impact on car crash rates

Every year, nearly 5.8 million accidents take place. Of that total, almost 22 percent are the result of weather related issues. Out of those accidents, approximately 73 percent are due to the roads being wet; with 46 percent of those instances occurring during rainfall.

Only 17 percent of weather-related car accidents take place as a result of snowfall. With even a smaller percentage (3 percent) of weather accidents being attributable to fog.

There are seven different type of road weather variables: air temperature and humidity, wind speed, precipitation, fog, pavement temperature, pavement condition and water level. While air temperature and humidity does not impact the roadway or traffic flow, it affects construction and road treatment strategies.

Wind speed can impact both your visibility distance (due to dust and snow blowing) and create lane obstructions, as the result of blown snow or debris. This can cause a reduction in the number of vehicles on the road, reduce traffic speed and travel time delays. The combination gives rise to the possibility of accidents.

Vehicles perform differently depending on the condition of the roads. The less traction that a roadway has, the more unpredictable and unstable a vehicle may operate.

Drivers tend not to perform at optimal levels when road conditions become inclement. Differences in the level of an individual driver's capabilities may impact his or her decision making process as well.

Visibility that is lost due to fog depends on the thickness of that fog. The heavier it is, the less visibility you have. Unlike air temperature and humidity discussed above, fog does have the potential to result in slower traffic speeds, time delays and a higher potential for traffic accidents.

Pavement conditions can impact both its infrastructure and friction. Less friction means less vehicle stability, slower traffic and traffic delays. As a result, the possibility of traffic accidents increase, due to all those factors negatively affecting a driver's behavior.

If water levels become too high, roadways become undriveable. The higher the water levels, the slower the traffic speeds, the greater the delays and the more likely possibility for vehicular accidents.

When it comes to driving, the onus falls on vehicle operators to adapt to changing weather patterns and road conditions. If you or someone you know was injured in an auto accident during inclement weather, an experienced Houston car crash attorney, can help advise you of your rights as it relates to filing a claim.

Source: Federal Highway Administration, "How do weather events impact roads?," accessed Feb. 07, 2017

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Brian Jensen

Representation in the Houston Area with 3 Convenient Locations:

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Frost Bank Building, 6750 West Loop South, Suite 800
Bellaire, TX 77401

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