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Light Rain Increases Risk of Crash

There’s nothing more refreshing than a light rain to clean the air and make the grass and flowers bloom in the springtime.

However, a new study released in April in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society says that even light rain significantly increases the risk of a fatal car crash. 

It’s common sense that wetter the roads are more dangerous, with rain, snow, and ice increasing the risk of deadly car crashes by 34%, according to the study.

However, what might surprise you is that light rain —"We're talking a drizzle, just at the point where you might consider taking an umbrella out," said study lead author Scott Stevens—increased the fatal crash risk by 27%.

Stevens, a data analyst and meteorologist at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, and other colleagues looked at 125,012 fatal car crashes in the Lower 48 states from 2006 to 2011, factoring in how many cars are on the road, to calculate the risk of a fatal accident.

While other studies have used police reports and the nearest weather station to calculate rain and snow conditions, Stevens said his is the first study to use more precise weather radar data. It was able to distinguish how hard the rain or snow was falling to come up with results showing an increase in fatal crashes even in rain of less than one-tenth of an inch per hour.

"People slow down when it starts to rain heavily, but I think they under-appreciate the risk of light rain," Stevens said Tuesday.

With moderate rain the risk of fatal car crashes is 75% more than in nice weather, Stevens said, and with heavy rain it's nearly two-and-a-half times riskier.

Those of us here in the Upper Midwest had the highest risk of fatal crashes with rainy and snowy weather, while the risks were lowest in the Northeast and Southeast. Stevens thinks that's because the east is more urban and people aren't driving fast enough for fatal accidents.

Back to common sense thinking, slow down in inclement weather – even in a light rain.  Make sure your wiper blades are replaced from time-to-time and realize that wet roads can also be very slippery, and it takes longer to stop.

The team of attorneys at Theodoros & Rooth is experienced in defending victims of vehicle accidents when there is negligence involved.   If you or someone close to you has suffered personal injury at the hands of an irresponsible driver, call us and come in for a free consultation.   If you have a case, we will aggressively represent you every step of the way.