Weather Affects Traffic Accidents and Driving Behavior
Even though it’s hotter than the blazing pits of Hades in much of California right now, the Fall season is technically right around the corner and weather related traffic accidents are unfortunately something we as drivers need to consider. We are keeping our fingers crossed that as we enter into Autumn toward the end of September that moisture is on the way, bringing relief to another summer of devastating fires, continued drought and extremely hot weather. With the benefits of rain comes a change in driving patterns and unfortunately, more traffic accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), “Between the years of 2004-2013, there were 573,784 crashes, 228,196 people injured, and 2,732 people killed in car crashes caused by rain. Crashes caused by rain comprised 46% of all weather related car accidents; injuries caused by rain comprised 52% of all weather related injuries; and fatalities caused by rain comprised 47% of all weather related fatalities.”
The Affects of Rain on Driving Behavior and Traffic Patterns
Californians aren’t going to win any awards for their ability to drive in adverse weather conditions. When it rains – especially the first rain of the season – oil and debris from gutters, gas stations, driveways, highways and any surface where residual oil may accumulate is swept away from cement, asphalt and soil, creating road surfaces that can be incredibly slick. Combine that with the risk of hydroplaning on pools and sheets of standing water, reduced driver visibility and reduced reaction time and you have a recipe for weather related traffic accidents. When driving in rainy conditions, follow these steps to drive safely and to protect yourself from other drivers:
- Go Slower – That’s a challenge for California drivers who like to drive fast and who have places to be, but taking your time could save your life. Driving slower lowers your risk of hydroplaning on slick roads and increases your reaction time to deal with potential issues up ahead.
- Turn on Your Headlights – This makes it easier for other drivers to see you in conditions of limited visibility.
- Keep Your Distance – Safe following distance is at least the length of a car, preferably longer. The generally accepted rule of thumb for following distance is that for every 10 mph of speed you are driving, your following distance should be at least one car length. Example: 20 mph = 2 car lengths, 30 mph = 3 car lengths, etc. Another widely accepted rule is the 2-second rule, based on a driver’s perception and reaction time. It takes a second or two to actually perceive what is happening before you can take an action – moving foot from gas pedal to break pedal. The 2-second rule is best practiced when you are a passenger in a vehicle, where you can develop a sense of how much distance 2 seconds buys you at varying speeds.
- Maintain Situational Awareness – In adverse weather, anything can happen, and it has. Ask anyone who works in EMS and they will tell you that they have witnessed the unthinkable. Pay attention, don’t text or fiddle with things on your phone or dash while driving and know what is going on around you at all times. This will allow you to be proactive in the case of an emergency situation, and to avoid one entirely.
- Be Aware of Pedestrians – In rainy weather, pedestrian behavior around vehicles can get a little strange. Stay alert in heavily populated areas, especially those with children such as school zones or cross walks to avoid an unexpected situation with a pedestrian.
Develop Fleet Awareness
As weather patterns change, develop a safety plan with your team of drivers that discusses the inherent risks of operating under changing conditions. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “68% percent of… (trucking related) fatalities were passengers in motor vehicles, while 15% were bicyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians. 72% of truck related accidents resulting in fatalities in 2014 involved tractor-trailers.” That translates to roughly 5,000 people in passenger vehicles dying every year in semi-truck related accidents and about 700 drivers or truck passengers. As a fleet manager, these sobering statistics are worthy of your attention and by developing fleet awareness around safety, specifically in reference to changing weather, you can keep your team and organization safe along with other drivers and pedestrians.
The Bottom Line for Preventing Weather Related Traffic Accidents
Accidents happen, and as the weather changes from the heat of summer to the cooler, wetter months of fall leading into winter, it is good to be prepared for weather related traffic accidents. Prioritize safety for yourself and your fleet by following the safety suggestions above, have discussions with your team about how to get everyone on the same page in terms of safety protocol and consider carrying an AAA Emergency Safety Kit in your vehicle or truck.
Contact an SCL Consultant Today
In a wide range of industrial sectors, SCL is committed to being the number one logistics and solutions provider for the products that protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of industry trends and technological innovations, and as the market continues to evolve, we are committed to providing extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. For information on how we can assist your fleet in choosing the optimal products at a competitive price, contact an SCL consultant today.