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Why Does Rain Make Traffic Worse?

19 Jul 2017, 3:05 pm

“Come on people! Act like we’ve been here before!”

Is a phrase I find myself blurting into my windshield just about every rainy commute.

But as it turns out, rain is actually the most deadly weather element when it comes to climbing in the driver’s seat!

Lakeland, Florida Flooding

Heavy rain led to flash flooding in Lakeland, Florida Monday afternoon. – Video: benjatc

Posted by WeatherNation on Monday, July 17, 2017

The Numbers

This isn’t just some alternative summer-fact to scare you into paying more attention, rain is actually more deadly than snow when it comes to driving!

There are, however, a few things we need to clear up before we get into the numbers. First, car accidents actually top the list when it comes to weather-related deaths. Averaging it out, there are about 7,000 every year! That’s more than heat, cold, hurricanes, severe storms, and tornadoes combined!

Going even deeper, in 39 of our 50 states– rain is the most deadly element to drive in. And this goes far beyond just flooding!


The obvious answer?
Rain simply affects more people than all of those other weather hazards, and it’s typically not enough to keep us from our day-to-day.

But more so than that, there’s a reason rain beats out snow, sleet, and freezing rain when it comes to car accidents.

You see, there are a good chunk of drivers out there who never even see snow! And even more that see it, but rarely.
So by the law of numbers it just makes more sense that rain causes more deaths than the other weather elements.

But Why?

Driving in the rain is dangerous– for many reasons!

  1. Reduced visibility.
    You see, pun intended, rain hitting the windshield reduces visibility. When it’s harder to see, it’s harder to be prepared for the objects you might encounter on the open road.
  2. Less Grip on the Road.
    The rain on the road acts as a little layer of friction-reducing fun. Tires can’t gain traction so they slide when trying to stop or corner quickly.
  3. Crud.
    One thing I quickly learned while riding motorcycles was that a fresh rain lifts all of the oil and dirt that settled into the road during the dry days. That little bit of seemingly small debris makes the road all that much more slippery at the onset of a storm.
  4. Flooding
    Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

These are just a few of the biggies, but it goes to show just how dangerous driving in the rain really can be!

So How Can We Stay Safe?

Never get behind the wheel of a car again!

Public transportation has come a long way in the U.S. in recent years, meaning it might be time to go get that new bus pass and experience the free entertainment that comes with your daily commute.

Only joking! Kind of…

But if you are looking for what to do to stay safe, WeatherNation’s John VanPelt made this nifty little video breaking it all down so we commoners can understand.

For WeatherNation — Meteorologist Jeremy LaGoo

Cover Photo: Flikr/SounderBruce

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