It is estimated that nearly six million vehicular accidents occur annually in the U.S., and about 22 percent of those are weather related. A staggering 445,000 individuals are injured due to accidents during bad weather and almost 6,000 deaths from that. The statistics alone should be reason enough to stay off the roads when the weather is bad, but unfortunately, some people venture out anyways, either voluntarily or for other reasons, such as for work or emergencies. Individuals on the road in poor conditions may find themselves liable since inclement weather affects both vehicle mobility and the driver’s visibility.
How Weather Affects Vehicle Mobility
Many severe weather accidents are preventable when appropriate precautions are taken. Inclement weather is any weather that delays an individual’s scheduled departure or arrival. This includes heavy rains, hurricanes, tornadoes, snow, sleet, hail, high wind, extreme cold, or any other weather condition that impacts the driver’s ability to operate a vehicle as they normally would. Understanding how to drive in inclement weather is imperative.
Use caution while driving if you must be on the road in poor weather. Remember to leave early and drive slower than normal. It is more difficult to control and stop your car on slick or snow-covered roads. Remember to increase your following distance so you have plenty of time and space to stop. Also, remember that each vehicle will handle differently in different types of weather and that things like the quality or type of tire greatly affect how your vehicle handles.
How Weather Affects Driver Visibility
While visibility is rarely documented in detail at the time of an accident inclement weather can have a big impact on one’s visibility while driving. Impaired visibility hinders a driver’s ability to plan for stopping, turning, and overall planning while driving. This is an important and noteworthy issue. If weather conditions hinder your ability to see well and you must be on the road you must proceed with extreme caution.
Things to remember on the road when visibility is reduced:
- Do not use high beams- High beams reflect off of the water vapors and reduce visibility more
- Increase your visibility to others- Keep your headlights on and if the weather is very bad put your foreway lights on to show other drivers your location.
- Stay in your lane. This seems obvious, but if you can’t see where you are going and are in the wrong lane your chance of a head-on collision is greatly increased.
- Pull over if needed. If visibility is making it too difficult to see, and you have a safe spot to do so, it may be in your interest to pull over to the side of the road and wait until visibility improves. It is important to remember that if you’re going to pull over, put your hazards on so other drivers can see your vehicle. Report the accident to your insurance company.
How Weather Impacts Accident Liability
If a crash was caused by inclement weather, it might not be obvious if any of the drivers involved were liable. This insurance company and police will work together to determine if the accident was at the fault of the driver for not driving according to the weather or if the main cause was the weather itself. Many accidents that happen during a spell of bad weather are considered preventable, and as a result many times a driver is held liable for negligence despite the conditions.
If you find yourself in an accident during adverse weather conditions, make sure everyone is alright. Once you have done this, move your vehicle to safety, call the authorities to report the accident,t and get help to the scene if needed. For a complete checklist of what to do click here.
While inclement weather might be unavoidable, it is best to try and stay off the road. If you must be on the road in poor weather conditions, remember to slow down, and stay visible to other drivers.