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What can I do to avoid being in a car accident in inclement weather?

No matter how safely we try to drive, the weather is a factor that’s outside our control. Any time serious weather hits the highways and city streets of South Carolina, there’s a heightened risk that a major accident could result.

While many vehicle accidents in severe weather seem like they were unavoidable at first glance, the truth is that weather-related factors rarely play a role in directly causing a crash. Data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that only 2% of crashes are caused by environmental factors, and weather-related categories only make up a portion of these crashes.

In other words, despite your best efforts to stay safe, the poor behavior of others on the road can lead to you being involved in a crash through no fault of your own. This is especially true in inclement weather, where poor decisions can lead to serious consequences on the road.

Refer to the safety tips below to protect yourself the next time you’re caught in major weather in South Carolina, and reach out to a South Carolina car accident lawyer if you still find yourself hurt in a crash.

Safety Tips for Driving in Severe Weather

Slow Down

The most important tip to always follow in bad weather is to go easy on the gas. Heavy downpours severely limit visibility, making it more difficult to see obstacles, hazards, and other vehicles ahead. Not only that but traction on wet roads is severely reduced. Experiments conducted by AAA found that your braking distance increases by 43% when using relatively worn tires on a wet road — or 87 feet, at highway speeds.

Drive at the speed limit for mild weather, and reduce your speed accordingly for any reduction in visibility or traction.

Turn Your Lights On

You may think that turning on your headlights won’t provide much additional visibility during a daytime storm, but that’s not really the point. The point is that reflective lights and other visibility devices on a vehicle are not as effective once it starts raining. Turning on your lights makes you easier to spot and avoid once visibility becomes limited.

Give Everyone Lots of Room

Assume that vehicles may slide or have difficulty maintaining distance. Keep especially clear of tractor trailers and other large commercial vehicles, which could flip over in high winds.

Know How to Work Your Defroster

Being quick on the draw with your vehicle’s defrost function can mean the difference between seeing other vehicles and being trapped in your own dome of fog. The most basic rule of thumb is to try to counteract the temperature difference between the inside of the window and the outside, so use cool air in summer and warm or hot air in fall and winter to have the quickest effect.

Keep Your Vehicle Well-Maintained

Vehicle maintenance is a key factor in being ready to handle any serious weather events. Things like replacing tires and windshield wipers can seem not-so-important on days with good weather, only for them to matter quite a bit once the storm front rolls in.

Make sure to keep up with all aspects of your vehicle’s maintenance in order to be prepared for any possible severe weather events. That includes your lights, brakes, tires, windshield wipers, fluids, and general maintenance checks.

Never Drive Through Flood Waters

Once water starts pooling on the road, many drivers will assume that they can wade through given enough patience. The truth is that it only takes 12 inches of gushing waters to carry away a vehicle. Worse, the road underneath the water may be collapsed or otherwise impassable.

If you encounter water covering the road more than a few inches, find an alternate route. Never drive around barriers designating a road as too flooded to access. In cases where flooding has you stranded, seek out a safe place to wait on high ground or in a multi-story building nearby.

Have an Emergency Kit Ready

A well-stocked emergency kit includes safety lights/flares, extra clean drinking water, some non-perishable food, a blanket, garbage bags, a first aid kit, a towline, and jumper cables. Consider having a laminated map handy with clearly marked evacuation routes, in case cell phone service is disrupted.

Top Human-Related Factors in Severe Weather Crashes

Severe weather can make crashes more intense and more likely, but that doesn’t make them inevitable. Instead, it’s often the mistakes of humans that lead to an accident happening during major weather events.

Common examples of negligent driving that lead to a severe weather accident include:

  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Driving aggressively
  • Ignoring instructions from the National Weather Service or local authorities
  • Failing to maintain brakes and other vehicle components
  • Driving without lights on during severe weather (SC Code § 56-5-4450 (2012))
  • Following too closely
  • Failing to notice vehicles, obstacles, etc
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving while drowsy

Any time you have been involved in an accident in serious weather and you suspect any of these factors could have contributed, know that you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, your lost income, and other losses you have suffered. While the other driver may try to say that the weather caused the accident, a thorough investigation of the accident’s circumstances could reveal that they were at fault — partially or wholly — for the crash.

Speak to an experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer after reporting the accident and receiving medical treatment in order to start your possible claim against all at-fault parties. Know, too, that the manufacturer of your tires, your vehicle, and other key safety components can be considered at fault if your accident was caused in part or in full by a defective product.

Reach Out to Our South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers

For over two and a half decades, Auger & Auger has provided comprehensive and client-focused legal services for people injured in South Carolina. Our team of seasoned legal professionals is ready to help you get back on your feet after your collision, with the money you need to be made whole again. We know the tactics insurers use to reduce your available compensation, and we aren’t afraid to take your case to court if that’s what is required to recover your damages.

Never assume that a bad car accident was a “fluke” caused by severe weather. Reach out to our attorneys, who will explore every possible option for finding you the funds you need to cover your losses.

Schedule your free, no-obligation case review now when you call 800-559-5741 or contact us online.

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