Due to the high amounts of precipitation Seattle receives on an annual basis, it is never a bad time to remind drivers about the very real dangers rain and fog present. It is also never a bad time to provide tips to help drivers avoid serious vehicle accidents.
Regardless of where a person lives in the country, it probably comes as no surprise that “precipitation events” are the leading cause of fatal car crashes in the United States. Per findings published by Car and Driver, precipitation events increase the risk of fatal traffic accidents by 34%. What may surprise Seattle residents, however, is that even light rain can increase the risk of a fatal crash by as much as 27%. “Light rain,” in this case, refers to a drizzle in which individuals may not even consider using an umbrella. What this indicates is that drivers underappreciate the risk that any level of moisture presents and drive recklessly regardless of its presence.
When in doubt, wait it out
According to Driving Tests, the best way to avoid a rain-induced traffic event is to wait out the weather. If possible, drivers should postpone their commutes or trips until the weather has dried up. This tip may prove particularly useful for individuals who already feel hesitant on the road.
If a person must commute in wet conditions, Driving Tests recommends driving the posted speed limit, if not slower. In wet conditions, a vehicle’s key safety features — namely braking — react much more slowly than they do in favorable weather.
Keep a safe distance
Rule of thumb dictates that drivers should always maintain a single car length between them and the vehicles ahead for every 10 miles-per-hour driven. In wet conditions, drivers should increase this distance to account for the reduced reaction time of the brakes.
Turn on the headlights
Headlights increase a driver’s visibility and, just as importantly, helps other drivers on the road spot his or her vehicle from a safe distance. For this reason, most states require drivers to use headlights when the weather is anything less than ideal.
Lookout for standing water
Hydroplaning is one of the most common causes of car accidents in adverse weather conditions. Hydroplaning occurs when a vehicle’s tires cut through standing water and lose traction in the process. When the tires lose traction, a driver may lose control of the vehicle, which could cause it to skip across lanes and into oncoming traffic. If a vehicle does hydroplane, the best thing a driver can do is remain calm, let off the gas and steer it in the direction it needs to go. Most important of all, the driver should avoid slamming on the brakes or jerking the wheel.
Even if a precipitation event seems more like a minor inconvenience than an actual “event,” drivers should take it seriously. Doing so could help prevent costly and potentially fatal car crashes.