According to the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) there are nearly six million highway accidents on average per year of which 23%, or 1.3 million, are weather-related. Almost 1/2 million people are injured every year in traffic accidents and over 6,000 perish. Surprisingly the most accident prone weather condition is rain with 74% of the accidents occurring during rainfall as compared to sleet and snow at 17%. Wind, temperature, and pavement condition also affect driving.

The FHWA shares the following interesting and informative weather related crash statistics in How do Weather Events Impact Roads?

Road Weather Conditions
Weather-Related Crash Statistics
10-year Average (2002-2012)
10-year Percentages
Wet Pavement 959,760 crashes 17% of vehicle crashes 74% of weather-related crashes
384,032 persons injured 16% of crash injuries 80% of weather-related injuries
4,789 persons killed 13% of crash fatalities 77% of weather-related fatalities
Rain 595,900 crashes 11% of vehicle crashes 46% of weather-related crashes
245,446 persons injured 10% of crash injuries 52% of weather-related injuries
2.876 persons killed 8% of crash fatalities 46% of weather-related fatalities
Snow/Sleet 211,188 crashes 4% of vehicle crashes 17% of weather-related crashes
58,011 persons injured 3% of crash injuries 13% of weather-related injuries
769 persons killed 2% of crash fatalities 13% of weather-related fatalities
Icy Pavement 154,580 crashes 3% of vehicle crashes 12% of weather-related crashes
45,133 persons injured 2% of crash injuries 10% of weather-related injuries
580 persons killed 2% of crash fatalities 10% of weather-related fatalities
Snow/Slushy Pavement 175,233 crashes 3% of vehicle crashes 14% of weather-related crashes
43,503 persons injured 2% of crash injuries 10% of weather-related injuries
572 persons killed 2% of crash fatalities 10% of weather-related fatalities
Fog 31,385 crashes 1% of vehicle crashes 3% of weather-related crashes
11,812 persons injured 1% of crash injuries 3% of weather-related injuries
511 persons killed 2% of crash fatalities 9% of weather-related fatalities
Weather-Related * 1,311,970 crashes 23% of vehicle crashes
480,338 persons injured 20% of crash injuries
6,253 persons killed 17% of crash fatalities

 

Why are there more Accidents on Wet Pavement than Icy?  

Warm weather climates may be part of the disparity; it doesn’t sleet and snow everywhere in the USA. And there’s another factor to consider. The FHWA shared this interesting fact, “Speed reductions can range from 10 to 25 percent on wet pavement and from 30 to 40 percent with snowy or slushy pavement.” Whatever the reason, be it reduced drivability, traffic congestion, or driving style—people drive substantially slower on snow and ice covered roads than on wet pavement. Both are slick. Both are hazardous.

How to Avoid Weather Related Accidents   

To begin with, slow down on wet pavement; proceed with the same care and caution as driving on snow or slush covered roads. Accidents may be reduced by taking these precautions and giving yourself ample time.

  • Properly prepare your vehicle before driving—clean all windows and lights and be sure tires are at proper pressure.
  • Slowdown for all inclement conditions not only snow and ice.
  • Increase the following distance between cars.
  • Stay in one lane—if a lane change is unavoidable proceed slowly.
  • Turn your headlights on.
  • Proceed with caution at all intersections regardless of right of way.

Better Safe Than Sorry 

Everyday folks leave their homes and offices with little or no expectation of being delayed by inclement weather and poor driving conditions. Often people disregard safe driving practices to stay on schedule. They have to be on time to work, they can’t be late for an event, and they must arrive at their destination punctually. All are important, but planning ahead of the weather and roads may mean the difference between being a little late and…not arriving at all.