About 22% of car accidents are weather-related. It's a common misconception that most weather-related accidents happen in winter weather conditions, but the truth is that 73% of weather-related accidents occur on wet pavement and 46% occur during rainfall. Only about 17% of weather-related accidents occur during snow or sleet. This means that it's just as important to watch out for those summer storms if you want to avoid an accident. Take a look at a few tips that can help you avoid a rainy-day accident.
Make Sure Your Car Is Rain-Ready
It's always best to make sure that your car is in top condition, but it's especially important in poor weather. Before rainy season hits, make sure that your windshield wipers work properly and that the blades don't need to be changes. You'll need them for visibility during a storm.
Keep an eye on your tires and make sure that they're fully inflated before going out in a storm. Also, make sure that your headlights and taillights are in proper working order – you definitely want other drivers to be able to see you in the rain. If it's storming, or if it's going to storm, and your car isn't safe to drive in the rain, stay home, call a friend for a ride, or take public transportation until it's fixed. It's not worth the risk of driving a car that's not ready for rainy weather.
Keep Space Between You and the Car Ahead of You
Do you know how much space is supposed to be between you and the car ahead of you during a storm? During dry weather, you're supposed to keep at least two seconds of space between you and the next car ahead of you, but in light rain, you should double that – you need at least four seconds between you and the next car. In heavy rain, you want to extend that to at least six seconds of following distance.
You can calculate the distance between you and the car ahead of you by using a fixed object, like a tree, as a gauge. Start counting seconds when the bumper of the car ahead of you passes the object, and then stop when your front bumper passes the same object. You may not be able to stop your car as quickly when the roads are wet, so keeping a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you can make the difference between a collision and a near-miss.
Know How To Avoid Hydroplaning
You probably know that hydroplaning is what occurs when a car's tires are separated from the road by a layer of water. But knowing what hydroplaning is and knowing how to handle it are two very different things. The truth is, the sensation of hydroplaning can be very frightening, and it's easy to panic when it happens.
Your best bet is to avoid hydroplaning entirely. It's more likely to happen during the first ten minutes of a light rain, as the water mixes with oil residue in the road. If conditions are right for hydroplaning, slowing down is a good start – it's most likely to happen at speeds over 35 miles an hour. Try not to driver through puddles or standing water, and drive in the inner lane if you can. Water accumulates in the outer lanes. Keep your cruise control off and consider switching to a lower gear. Don't brake hard, make sharp turns, or accelerate suddenly when you're driving on a wet road.
Remember that if you get in an accident, you or the other driver (or both) will be held liable for the damages. It may seem like the poor weather is at fault, but drivers are expected to be able to drive in a way that's safe for the road conditions at the time, so if you lose control, you can be held responsible. It can be hard to determine fault when an accident occurs during a storm, so make sure that you consult an experienced local accident attorney who can protect your rights and help you recover compensation for your damages. Contact an auto accident attorney for more information.