As summer gets underway, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes start making the news with increasing frequency.
All of those large-scale weather events can cause a lot of physical devastation and take a toll in human lives. However, people are actually more likely to get into ordinary weather-related accidents on the road than they are to be harmed by major weather disasters.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) says that statistics from the 10-year period indicate that more than 5 million vehicle accidents happen each year — and about 22 percent of those are weather-related. Total, approximately 5,900 people each year end up dying in accidents due to the weather on the road. By comparison, only about 375 people die each year due to a combination of extreme weather events. That includes those killed by severe heat and lightning strikes and not just major floods, tornadoes and hurricanes.
The reason that major weather events are less likely to take human lives than ordinary weather hazards on the road is probably related to a number of different factors:
— Major weather events get a lot of news coverage and people are able to plan accordingly for their own protection, a fact that reduces the death toll considerably.
— Sudden hazards like bursts of rain and sun glare aren’t easily predicted. People don’t have sufficient time to prepare or adjust their driving routine when there are rapid changes in visibility and road conditions.
— Some ordinary weather issues, like rain storms, are so common that people have become desensitized to the hazards they present. Wet roads and rain are the top two causes of weather-related vehicular accidents and deaths every year, a fact that many drivers likely don’t realize.
— Some weather hazards, like blowing dust during windy weather, are unfamiliar enough to drivers that they don’t know how to compensate for the conditions while they try to drive.
You can do your part to reduce the odds of causing or being involved in a weather-related accident by being conscious of the dangers and taking simple precautions like slowing down when weather conditions make driving hazardous or getting off the road for a few minutes while a summer storm passes. However, if you’re injured in a weather-related car accident due to someone else’s negligence, consider talking to an attorney in order to get fair compensation.
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, “How Do Weather Events Impact Roads?,” accessed May 26, 2017