Light Rain Increases Risk of Fatal Crash


How much does the weather influence the chances of getting into a car accident? According to a recent study, quite a bit. It’s not just the severe weather that can be dangerous. Even a light rain or drizzle can significantly increase the risk of a fatal crash.

Light Rain Can Increase Crash Risk

Researchers at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies reviewed more than 125,000 fatal car accidents between 2006 and 2011. The accidents were compared to weather at the time of the crash. Rather than relying on police report or weather stations, the researchers used weather radar data. Radar can provide a much more specific and accurate picture of what the weather was like when an accident happened.

When compared to nice weather, the study found that accidents are:

  • 27 percent more likely in light rain
  • 75 percent more likely in moderate rain, and
  • 2.5 times more likely in heavy rain.

The most interesting revelation is that even a drizzle can significantly increase the risk of a fatal crash. It’s easy to see the driving behaviors change when there’s heavy rain or inclement weather. However, drivers don’t always change their habits if they just see a sprinkle on their windshield. This study indicates that changes to driving behaviors are necessary for any type of precipitation.

Fatal Weather Related Accidents Happen More Often in Rural Areas

He said he also found that weather-related fatal crashes happened more frequently in rural areas. Weather seemed to have the smallest impact on urban areas like San Diego. Why? Cities are congested. There’s a lot of traffic. While accidents do happen every day, they’re typically not at high speeds. Fatal car accidents often involve vehicles traveling at high rates of speed.

How to Minimize the Risk of an Accident in the Rain

You always have an obligation to drive safely when you are behind the wheel. You need to use even more caution when the weather is bad. As this study has revealed, this includes times when there’s only a drizzle or light rain.

  • You can limit the chances of getting into an accident when it’s raining by:
  • Driving at or below the speed limit
  • Making sure the lights on your vehicle are on
  • Leaving extra space between vehicles while driving and stopped
  • Giving yourself extra time to make a turn
  • Taking turns particularly slowly
  • Putting your cell phone away and focusing all of your attention on the road
  • Paying extra attention for pedestrians and bicyclists.

These simple steps can be the difference between getting to your intended destination safely and getting into an accident.

Liability for Weather-Related Car Accidents

You can’t sue the weather if you’re injured in a car accident. While the weather can contribute to a crash, it’s the drivers who are ultimately responsible. This is why it is critical to use extra care when driving in the rain or bad weather.

If you rush, speed, or drive in a way that increases the risk of an accident, you can be considered negligent. Negligence, which is the leading cause of car accidents in San Diego, means that you can be on the hook for damages caused by a crash.

Alternatively, your ability to recover compensation could be compromised. California state comparative negligence laws limit how much you can recover after an accident if you are partly to blame.