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Common Environment-Related Factors in Car Accidents

Colburn Law

A number of different factors can lead to car accidents in Washington state, from faulty traffic lights to distracted driving and other dangerous driving practices. However, environmental conditions, such as inclement weather and obstructed views, can also play a role in collisions on our roads. While these natural occurrences may not be the primary cause of many accidents, they may play a significant role.

#1: Slick and Icy Roads

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that slick and icy roads contributed to 50% of crashes involving environment-related factors. Many people do not know how to drive safely on slick roads, leading to sliding, trouble breaking, and collisions with other vehicles.

According to the AAA, you should drive much slower on roads that are icy or wet with rain in order to avoid accidents. You should increase the distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you to six seconds. This action will protect you in case someone loses control and slips on the road.

#2: Heavy Rain and Storms

Similar to driving on slick and icy roads, storms and heavy rains can seriously impact a driver’s safety. These conditions lead to multiple factors that can make driving dangerous – low visibility, slick and slippery roads, heavy winds that push your car, and heightened risk from other drivers who may not be comfortable driving in the rain.

If you can, avoid driving in especially heavy rains and dangerous storms. If you do need to drive, make sure to drive slowly and increase the distance between you and the car in front of you. Turn on your headlights to increase visibility and warn other drivers of your presence.

#3: Thick Fog and Poor Visibility

Keeping your eyes on the road and maintaining awareness of the vehicles around you are key factors for safe driving. However, heavy, thick fog and smog can significantly decrease visibility. If you cannot see the road in front of you, you are more likely to get into a car accident. Stay focused when driving in poor visibility. Reduce your speed and use your headlights, never your brights.

#4: Obstructed Views and Objects in the Roads

Sometimes, objects can either block the road or block your ability to see the road, leading to a heightened accident risk. Low-hanging signs, fallen or overgrown trees, bridges, and construction sites can impact your ability to see the road and anticipate hazards. In addition, unexpected objects can lead to sudden stops and swerving, such as animals, rocks, or branches.

If you encounter an area of the road where you cannot see clearly, slow down to anticipate any hazards or other drivers. If you suddenly encounter an unexpected object while driving, slow down and see if you can safely navigate around it.

If an animal jumps in front of your car, do not swerve to avoid it. Instead, brake quickly and firmly, turn on your brights if no other drivers are around, and honk to scare the animal away.

#5: Glare

Another unexpected, but quite common, cause of environment-related crashes is glare from the sun or lights from other vehicles. Glare can significantly reduce your ability to see on the road, leading to collisions and other accidents. If you are in a situation where glare is making it difficult to see, you should decrease your speed and increase the distance between you and the car in front of you.

If someone driving toward you has his or her lights shining into your eyes, look down and to the right to continue driving safely using your peripheral vision. Your periphery is not as light-sensitive as the center of your eyes, so you can reduce the light’s effect on you while still remaining focused on the road.

It can be difficult to determine who or what was at-fault for an accident if rainy weather or intense fog may be to blame – but you still have options for compensation. Sometimes, drivers fail to practice due caution when driving in dangerous environmental conditions and cause collisions on the road. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible to learn more about filing an insurance claim or lawsuit.