What kinds of weather contribute the most to car crash risk?

Maryland experiences four seasons of different weather patterns, and each season comes with its own set of unique risks on the road. Factors like summer vacation and road trips during spring break influence crash risk, and these risks ebb and flow throughout the year.

The weather itself is often one of the major issues that contribute to collisions in Maryland. People recognize that certain kinds of weather, including severe thunderstorms and blizzards, increase the risk of major collisions. However, they often overlook or ignore the two weather conditions most strongly associated with increased crash risk.

Rain and wet pavement are major safety issues

Although people often think of winter weather as the worst to drive in, frozen precipitation is not the most dangerous based on the number of collisions that occur. Sleet, snow and icy roads only account for a minority of the collisions that occur each year across the United States during times of poor weather.

Wet pavement is actually the most common risk factor for major collisions. Each year, roughly 75% of all weather-related crashes occur when the pavement is wet. Roughly 47%, including a significant portion of those wet pavement collisions, occur during active rainstorms. Snow and icy roads are only responsible for about 24% of the weather-related crashes that happen each year.

Unlike severe snow storms and freezing rain, rain and wet pavement are common occurrences throughout the year. People cannot simply avoid traveling whenever the pavement is wet or there is a little bit of rain coming down. Still, they can make choices that will improve their overall safety. Drivers may want to adjust their routes to choose roads with lower speed limits and to leave more space between their vehicle and other vehicles in traffic because the slick pavement won’t provide as much traction.

Motorists who adjust their driving habits to account for weather-related risk factors can potentially reduce their personal risk of being involved a major motor vehicle collision. As a result, learning more about factors associated with increased crash risk can guide people to safer choices in traffic.

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