One lesson we've learned in our work with Panama City accident victims is that it is human nature to look for an explanation, to search for a cause. We all want to know the "why," both so we prevent future accidents and so we can assign blame. Luckily, the law recognizes the essential truth that there is rarely just one answer because most accidents have more than one cause. You can bring a Panama City personal injury claim against a negligent driver, even if other factors came into play in your collision. However, we know all of our clients would have preferred to avoid the accident from the outset. In that spirit, we believe in educating our clients and other visitors to our website on roadway safety, including rainy weather driving tips.
Weather is one of the most common contributing factors in auto accidents. While many of our friends to the north have been dealing with snow and ice in recent months, even rainy, wet weather can pose very real dangers for motorists. According to the Federal Highway Administration's Road Weather Management Program, of the more than 6,301,000 vehicle crashes that occur annually, 24% (approximately 1,511,000 crashes) are weather-related.
The term "weather-related" encompasses crashes that occur during adverse weather or on slick pavement. Of these weather-related crashes, 75% involve wet pavement (vs. snowy, slushy, icy, or otherwise weather-compromised road surfaces) and 47% occur during rainfall. This adds up to 1,128,000 wet-pavement crashes that injure 507,900 and kill 5,500, and 707,000 crashes during rainfall that injure 330,200 and contribute to 3,300 deaths.
Skidding and hydroplaning are two rainy weather dangers that are not only scary, but can also contribute to injury-causing or even fatal car accidents. In one of several safer driving fact sheets, the Weather Channel advises that drivers can prevent skids by moving slowly and with care, especially on curves. Braking hard increases the skid risk so a lighter touch and the use of mild braking pressure is crucial.
If you start to skid, ease off the accelerator and carefully steer, aiming for the direction you want the front of the car to travel (considered now to be an easier tip to follow than the advice to "steer into the skid"), even if that requires turning the wheel again before the skid ends. If you have an anti-lock braking system ("ABS"), brake firmly, but avoid braking if you do not have an ABS system.
Hydroplaning occurs when the water in front or your tires builds faster than your car is able to push water away. This causes the vehicle to rise and slide on a film. Tire maintenance, including adequate tread and properly inflated tires, is key to preventing hydroplaning. In wet weather, driving slowly and avoiding puddles is beneficial. Driving in the tire tracks of the car in front of you can also help. If you start to hydroplane, avoid braking or sudden turns which can spark a further skid. Ease off the accelerator and allow the vehicle to slow until you are able to feel the road surface again. If braking is necessary, drivers without ABS should lightly pump the brakes. Drivers with ABS can brake normally and the car will automatically pump the brakes.
Inclement weather raises the risk of roadway accidents. Bad weather is not, however, an excuse for negligent driving. If you were injured or lost a loved one due to another driver's failure to exercise due caution given the road and weather conditions, you may be entitled to damages in civil court. Our Panama City accident lawyer works with experts to determine the root causes of an auto accident. If negligence contributed to the accident and your injuries (or a loved one's wrongful death), our team can prove it, and Attorney Pittman can help you get the compensation you deserve.