While we may be used to driving in poor weather here in Kansas City, after even a short dry spell it can come as quite a shock when a thunderstorm hits and the roads become soaked within minutes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 2.3 million people suffer injuries in car accidents every year. Furthermore, the Federal Highway Administration reports that 22 percent of all traffic collisions are weather related. You can take safety measures during inclimate weather to ensure the safety of yourself, the occupants of your vehicle, and everyone else on the road.
Long Periods of Dry Weather Are a Precursor to Slick Roads
During periods lacking rain, oil from cars and road debris accumulate on the road surface. Because no rain cleans these substances away during these short or long periods of dry weather, when it does rain, the roads can feel like an ice rink. Oil floats on water, which creates an extra slick surface on which tires often fail to grip. The first day of rain after a period of dry weather is the most dangerous. After a 24-hour period following the initial rainfall, much of the oil and road debris, such as dirt, gravel, bits of tire, and small objects fallen from trucks, have been washed away.
The Dangers of Hydroplaning
A vehicle may hydroplane when traveling over a large area of standing water. Much like a water skier, a vehicle’s tires may lose grip on the road surface and rise up to the top of the water momentarily when traveling at high speeds. This is called hydroplaning, and many drivers panic when this happens because they lose steering control of the vehicle. Instead of slamming on the brakes and yanking on the steering wheel frantically, take the following steps
- Take your foot off the gas pedal;
- Steer in the direction that the car is hydroplaning in. This might be the opposite direction that you want to go. However, it is important to realign the steering wheel with the direction that the car is traveling in; and
- Wait for the wheels to reconnect with the road (for the hydroplane to end) and then apply the brakes calmly as there may still be a danger of losing control during a heavy or frantic application of the brakes.
When it Is Wet, Slow Down
It is especially important to slow down and follow the safety protocol listed below when it rains following drought. However, whenever the roads are wet, drivers should always take extra caution:
- Drive slower at all times and especially around corners than you would during dry conditions;
- Allow more space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front;
- Brake in a controlled manner, not harder;
- If the weather is bad, plan accordingly. It may take you longer to get from point A to point B than normal, and there is no reason to rush it when safety is concerned;
- Use headlights so others can see you;
- Remember to always use turn signals;
- Make lane changes more slowly to allow others more time to react if need be;
- Avoid potholes and puddles, but do not swerve drastically; and
- Never use cruise control during wet weather.
If you or a loved one were injured during an auto collision during inclimate weather, you may be entitled to compensation. It is crucial to contact an experienced Kansas City car accident attorney as soon as possible to get started on your claim. Call the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm today to discuss your legal options.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.