It should go without saying that wet weather driving can be dangerous. A recent analysis of available federal data shows that rain is the leading cause of weather-related driving fatalities. Even in Alaska, rainy weather causes more fatal accidents than snow. Unfortunately, as the wet weather continues to come, people grow accustomed to driving in it and minimize the risks of doing so.
In Alabama, especially during the tropical weather season, drivers should be extra careful when heading out on the roads. Here are a few tips and reasons to be extra cautious.
- Decreased visibility – Rain on your windshield and rain in your line of sight both cause decreased visibility for drivers, making it harder to keep a proper lookout. Dangerous conditions or inattentive drivers are much harder to recognize in low visibility situations.
- Hydroplaning – Hydroplaning is a serious risk for auto accidents. When tires are not able to force the water away between them and the road, the vehicle begins to float on the water and the driver loses complete control of the vehicle. The risk for hydroplaning is as high when it first starts to rain and soon after it has stopped as it is when it is pouring. Too many people assume that hydroplaning can only occur during a heavy storm and minimize the risk after the rain has stopped.
- Distracted and reckless driving – People accustomed to driving in the rain often under-estimate the dangers of driving in the rain and fail to take proper precautions. Be alert not just for unsafe road conditions, but for careless drivers who are not taking proper care. Reduce speeds and avoid following closely the vehicle in front of you to allow for extra time to stop should an emergency arise. If another driver is driving recklessly, safely allow the driver to pass and move on from your area.
- Washouts – Though more common on county roads and older roads, any road surface not properly drained is susceptible to eroding and washing out. Washouts can be visible, where the road has collapsed, or invisible, where the earth under the roadway has washed out and is not able to support the weight of the roadway and a vehicle on top of it. Be on extra alert in areas with high running water over or the near roadway.
With wet weather and the tropical rain season upon Alabama, be careful out there. There are steps you can take to minimize your chances of being involved in a weather-related accident. Please go slow, steer clear of dangerous drivers, and watch for water on or near the road.
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