Rainstorms and the wet pavement they cause are responsible for a massive number of collisions every year. According to an analysis of collision data by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Road Weather Management Program, roughly 75% of all weather-related crashes occur on wet pavement. Approximately 47% of those collisions occur during active rainfall. Those crashes cost 5,700 people their lives each year and leave another 544,700 people hurt.
Why are wet pavement and rain so dangerous for drivers?
They might lose traction
One of the biggest concerns about wet pavement is the possibility of hydroplaning. This occurs when there is enough water on the pavement to affect the tires’ contact with the street. Underinflated tires and bald tires are at elevated risk of hydroplaning. Drivers who experience hydroplaning will lose control of their vehicles and might end up in a crash as a result.
Stopping distance increases
Even when vehicles don’t fully lose contact with the street, they may still struggle to maneuver appropriately on wet pavement. Frequently, drivers fail to decrease their speeds or increase their following distance when the pavement is wet, which might mean that they end up causing a rear-end crash because they can’t stop before hitting the vehicle in front of them.
There are visibility and animal issues
During active rainstorms, the falling rain can make it harder for drivers to monitor their surroundings for safety. Additionally, the wet conditions might lead to unusual animal activity, which can be a dangerous factor when combined with the already-decreased overall visibility on the road.
Additionally, puddling on road surfaces might hide dangerous potholes or debris that could lead to a tire blowout and a driver losing control of their vehicle. Overall, most people who have to drive in rainstorms or after them would benefit from reducing their speeds, increasing their following distance and otherwise adjusting through driving behaviors to reflect the elevated possibility of a crash.
Learning about and avoiding the leading causes of car wrecks can benefit those for whom traffic safety is a top personal priority.