Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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What weather conditions cause the most crashes?

Seasonal weather patterns can inspire an ever-changing array of traffic safety concerns. In the winter months, drivers have to worry about low tire pressure and sliding on ice. Sudden thunderstorms and heat-related changes can arise during the summer. The fall sees an accumulation of downed leaves that can cause vehicles to skid out.

People who regularly adjust their habits for seasonal traffic safety concerns can reduce their risk of being involved in major collisions. Contrary to what many drivers might think about dangerous weather and crash statistics, the summer is actually when they might encounter the most dangerous type of weather. The risk for weather-related crashes persists year-round, but one type of hazard is responsible for the vast majority of collisions.

Wet pavement is the top weather-related collision cause

When looking at a federal analysis of what weather conditions cause crashes, one issue stands out above all the rest. Approximately 75% of all weather-related collisions occur on wet pavement. Slightly less than half of all collisions occur during actual rainstorms.

Compare that with snow and ice, which people often think of as the most dangerous weather conditions. Cold season precipitation is only responsible for less than a quarter of all weather-related crashes. Roughly 24% of the weather-related collisions each year occur on roads with snow or ice accumulation, but only 15% take place during times of active snowfall or sleet.

Drivers concerned about traffic safety often try to stay off the roads when snow falls and until support services clear the roads later. Yet, during the spring, summer and fall, drivers may think nothing of traveling during active rainstorms or immediately after them. Wet pavement is dangerous because it affects tire traction. Drivers may need to slow down and also increase their following distance during and after rain storms. Active rainstorms can be dangerous because of heavy wind and the ways in which falling rain can affect visibility. Their aftermath may persist for hours after a storm stops.

Drivers familiar with the unique hazards of warmer seasons can potentially reduce their chances of being involved in a major motor vehicle collision. They can also recognize when another driver may have been responsible for a crash that did occur, because that driver failed to adjust their habits to reflect a known weather-related safety hazard.

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