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Traffic Collisions: The #1 Cause of Deaths Due to Bad Weather

December 31, 1969

When you think about deaths caused by bad weather, you probably assume that hurricanes, blizzards or tornadoes take the most lives. In fact, this is not the case. While these weather events get a lot of publicity and cause a lot of death and destruction at once, the number one cause of weather-related deaths is not a newsworthy natural disaster. It's traffic collisions. 1415582_morning_fog.jpg

Our Costa Mesa accident attorneys know that drivers are expected to operate their vehicles in a manner that is safe for the current weather conditions on the roads. Unfortunately, some drivers fail to account for dangerous conditions and they make bad choices that lead to serious accidents.

Car Wrecks Leading Cause of Bad-Weather Deaths

Recently, USA Today published an article on weather-related car accident deaths. The article indicated that people might hear of gruesome multi-car pileups caused by bad weather, but that they rarely if ever hear about the small one-and-two car crashes that routinely occur due to less-than-optimal outdoor conditions.

While the public may not be aware of these isolated fatal wrecks, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) now keeps track of them to determine the impact of weather on accidents. According to the FHA data, there are an average of more than 7,000 fatalities within the United States each year due to wrecks related to bad weather. This is almost as many as the 10,136 deaths that MADD reported occurred as a result of intoxicated drivers throughout the U.S. in 2011.

Despite the thousands of deaths each year, a program manager for the National Center for Atmospheric Research indicated that there was no information until recently about just how big of a problem weather-related accidents were. The National Weather Service's annual toll of weather-related deaths does not count these types of accidents among the weather-related deaths because the weather is not an active event in causing the fatality. NHTSA and others who keep statistics on car accidents also provide minimal information on weather-related accidents.

This new data from the FHA, therefore, may be the first information that we have that truly reflects the scope of the problem. Unfortunately, it shows that this is a serious public health issue.

Preventing Weather-Related Deaths
There are lots of different weather-events that can increase the chances of an accident occurring. In California, snow, sleet and ice are not problems that drivers have to cope with. However, fog and rain are both issues throughout California and these types of adverse weather can be every bit as deadly as a snow and ice covered road.

It is up to every driver to try to avoid weather-related accidents and the best way to do this is to ensure you adjust your speed and driving style so you are operating your vehicle in a safe manner in light of the weather. For example, if it is foggy or raining and visibility is affected, you should slow down and potentially even drive below the speed limit in order to avoid an accident. You should also increase the following distance between you and the car in front of you when the weather is bad.

By doing these simple things and by learning how to drive safely in fog and rain, drivers throughout California can do their part to bring the number of weather-related auto accidents down. Unfortunately, until every driver throughout the U.S. is aware of the dangers and responds to them by improving driver safety, it seems likely that car accidents will remain a top cause of weather-related deaths.

Contact Howard Law, PC today, if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident. Call today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. 1-800-872-5925.

Additional Resources:
SoCal Car Accident Risks on the Rise, California Injury Lawyers, March 5, 2013