It’s been a rough winter, weather-wise, in the northeast—snow, snow and more snow. Every night, there seems to be another report of a major pileup on a snowy highway.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are nearly six million traffic accidents in the United States every year. About one in five—over 1.3 million—are caused in part or in full by adverse weather conditions. The weather condition most likely to lead to a traffic accident—precipitation, either in the form of snow, ice or rain—accounts for three out of every four weather-related traffic accidents. But other weather conditions also play a significant part. Here’s an overview.
On average, 74% of weather-impacted motor vehicle accidents occur on wet pavement. About half happen when it’s raining and only 31% during snowy conditions (17% happen on icy roads). That’s a little misleading, say authorities, because most parts of the country only have snowy conditions for two to three months of the year, at most.
One of the surprising statistics—researchers found that traffic accidents were less likely to be fatal in adverse weather conditions. Though weather contributed to 23% of all crashes, it was a factor in only 17% of fatal accidents. NHTSA personnel say that adverse weather conditions necessary lead to reduced speeds, especially on freeways and highways. As a result, when an accident occurs, the impact is not as great, reducing the risk of death or serious injury.
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