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April Showers Bring Many Hazards to the Road

The saying goes that April showers bring May flowers. However, the true outcome in Florida of the influx of rain in April is not an increase in floral growth, but instead a rise in the danger associated with driving a motor vehicle. According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, there are nearly 6 million motor vehicle crashes each year, and approximately one quarter of these accidents are weather-related.

However, Floridians must be conscious of the often torrential downpours in June, July, August and September, the “wet season.” The Tampa Bay Area experiences approximately 30 inches of rain from June through September in an average year, while experiencing closer to 20 inches of rain in all of the other months of the year combined. This is often because of the daily afternoon showers that seem to arrive each day during the evening commute home, and the outer edge storm bands which strike the Bay area during Hurricane season.

Windshield Wipers May Decrease Visibility

The windshield may also add to the decrease in visibility, if it becomes fogged up during a rainstorm. Wipers are useful to keep the windshield clear, especially during light rain, but they do not reach all corners of the windshield and, as the intensity of the rain increases and with it the wiper speed, the wipers themselves block vision momentarily. Also, a driver concentrating intently on a partially obstructed windshield may fail to see pedestrians or vehicles that are not directly in front of him.

Changes in roadway surfaces also play a large part in the increased number of accidents during rainfall. Traction is at its best when the rubber tires of a vehicle are in close contact with the pavement, and it takes only a very small amount of rainwater to impede that traction. The oily film that builds up on roadways during dry spells becomes particularly dangerous when it first mixes with the wet surface, causing tires to spin on acceleration and skid during braking maneuvers. To make the best situation of a rain-slickened roadway, avoid using cruise control, slow down (particularly on all corners and turns), brake gently, and allow extra distance for stopping. Also avoid hugging the right side of the driving lane, where rainwater may build up; splashing through that puddle at the side of the road can damage the electronic systems of your car, as well as create a hazardous situation for other drivers.

Rainfall and Obstructions

Rainfall can also increase the number of hazardous obstructions that make driving dangerous. Obviously, powerful thunderstorms can down trees and power lines, but even a light rain can fill in a deep pothole that can damage your car or cause an accident. Debris that is just an eyesore during the dry season can become a floating hazard during a rainstorm. Slower moving traffic and stalled vehicles can impede movement of traffic, and affect the capacity of certain roadways. Backups are to be expected at intersections, where slow traffic means fewer cars are able to cross during a light cycle.

Respecting the ever-changing weather in Florida can make a huge difference in driver safety. The U.S. National Library of Medicine has found the risk of injury accidents in rainy weather can be 2-3 times greater than in dry weather. Understanding the effects of rainfall on visibility and road surfaces can go a long way to ensure safer transportation, but the most important thing a driver can do is slow down during rainfall, and stay off the roads completely during hard downpours or windy rainstorms.

The United States Department of Transportation’s report indicated that just fewer than 1 million motor-vehicle crashes (17 percent) in America happen on wet pavement. Additionally, just fewer than 600,000 motor-vehicle crashes (11 percent) in America occur during rain storms. While there is some overlap between the two, wet pavement and rain are factors in 74 and 46 percent of motor-vehicle crashes, respectively.

The National Weather Service recommends that when driving in rainy conditions drivers should: drive more slowly (so as to avoid skidding), steer and brake with a light touch, when entering a skid, and ease your foot off of the gas pedal while steering in the direction the driver wishes to go (keeping in mind that several adjustments might need to be made during the skid). Additionally, it is wise for drivers to keep their tires inflated correctly, so as to avoid hydroplaning, and to replace old or worn down tires.

April is nearly over, but that only means that the true time for driver vigilance in Florida is beginning. With the summer months approaching, Florida drivers will be experiencing an increase in rainfall, and therefore, an increase in danger on the roadways. Maintain your vehicles, avoid distracted driving, and proceed cautiously during these upcoming summer months.

Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA

Although driving during rain and thunderstorms in Florida is seemingly unavoidable, we ask that drivers be aware of their surroundings and remain hyper vigilant of other hazards and vehicles. If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident during a rain storm, you have rights under Florida Law. Contact a licensed Florida Personal Injury Attorney for advice. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is able to provide zealous representation of injured parties that have been affected by the negligence of other drivers. Contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation by calling 727-451-6900.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765