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Weather-related traffic accidents bring a flood of grief

With fundraisers and celebrity contributions, it is likely that charities raised millions of dollars to support the victims of the recent natural disasters across the country. You may have joined others in South Dakota who watched news coverage of devastating winds and floods, leaving destruction and death behind. You were probably horrified to hear of the number of people who died in those storms.

Still, the U.S. Department of Transportation says that the number of people who die in an average year from weather-related traffic accidents is greater than the number of annual deaths from all the tornadoes, floods and hurricanes combined.

Common weather dangers

Approximately 22 percent of all motor vehicle accidents occur as a result of inclement weather conditions. That's over one million accidents. If you were surprised to hear that 375 people died in the 10 years prior to 2014 due to floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and heat waves, you may be shocked to learn that an average of 5,900 people die in weather-related crashes in a single year. Some of the factors that cause these accidents include:

  • Wet pavements
  • Icy or snow-covered roads
  • Fog
  • Blowing dust or snow

Elements that reduce visibility, such as fog or a sudden snow squall, create a hazard because you may suddenly be unable to see more than a few feet ahead of you. A driver who is unprepared may be driving too fast and slam into the back of a car that slows down for the change in conditions.

Snow, ice and slush may make it difficult for a driver to stop his or her vehicle without sliding. If you happen to be approaching an intersection, you may suffer injuries if another vehicle cannot stop for the traffic light.

However, DOT data says that rain is the deadliest weather hazard, resulting in the highest number of fatal traffic accidents, likely because you may come across wet roadways during any season.

Don't take a raincheck!

The common factor in most weather-related accidents is driver speed and preparedness. If a driver collides with your car because he or she is going too fast for conditions, you may be the one to suffer the consequences with catastrophic injuries. If a driver does not properly maintain his or her car for the season, the driver may not be able to control it if the road becomes slick or visibility suddenly decreases.

You may be among the thousands who suffer injuries or lose loved ones each year in crashes during inclement weather. Since this is the time of year when South Dakota road conditions may deteriorate quickly, you would do well to remain alert and prepared for any possibility.

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