South Carolina is known for its subtropical climate, and while we enjoy plenty of clear blue skies and sunny days, we also experience our share of clouds, fog, and rain. From early spring downpours to hurricane season, wet weather can not only wreak havoc with our daily commute and any outdoor activities we have planned, but it can also result in potentially dangerous road conditions. Car accidents and injuries due to adverse weather conditions are common, and require drivers to take extra steps to ensure their own and their passengers’ safety when behind the wheel.
Wet, rainy conditions can make driving hazardous for even the most experienced of drivers, and is often a contributing factor in serious, potentially deadly car crashes and collisions. The U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that of the roughly six million car accidents that occur each year, adverse weather conditions are listed as a contributing factor in as many as 20 percent. Of these accidents, rain presents the greatest dangers, with close to half occurring during a downpour, and nearly two thirds on wet pavement.
Rainy weather has a serious impact on road quality, in addition to affecting traffic patterns and how drivers operate their vehicles. Particularly in states such as South Carolina, with our abundance of bridges and waterways, rainy conditions can result in flooding and road washouts, while reducing tire friction. Operational impacts faced by drivers due to rain include the following:
- Decreased visibility due to pouring rain, fog, and headlight glare;
- Increased likelihood of skidding due to poor tire traction;
- Reduced maneuverability when it comes to stopping or making turns;
- Greater potential for vehicle malfunctions and maintenance issues.
Even a slight downpour can make driving dangerous, but being prepared behind the wheel can help to reduce your risks.
Wet Weather Driving Tips
According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Palmetto State averages at least two inches of rainfall each month, with March and July being the months with the greatest precipitation, while May and November tend to have the least. In general, the Midlands tend to get the least amount of rain per year, while coastal areas and mountain regions average significantly more. These are facts drivers may want to keep in mind when planning trips, while arming themselves with the necessary skills to handle wet weather conditions when they do occur.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends checking the weather forecast before making any trip, whether it is across town or across the state, while always making sure your vehicle is well maintained. This includes checking your tire tread, replacing brake pads as needed, checking that all head, tail, and brake lights are working, and replacing windshield wipers and replenishing fluids as needed. Other tips for driving safely in the rain include the following:
- Turn on your headlights when driving in the rain to increase visibility;
- Avoid using cruise control, which can increase your odds of losing control on wet roads;
- Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, avoiding distractions such as cellphones, texting, or changing GPS settings;
- Slow down, and go slower than the maximum speed. Even 1/12 of an inch of water on the road can reduce your tire traction.
- Avoid tailgating other drivers, and allow plenty of time for making stops;
- Drive in the tracks of the car in front of you to avoid hydroplaning, and avoid braking hard or sudden accelerations;
- If you do begin to skid, try to stay calm, and look and steer in the direction you want to go;
- During a skid, avoid slamming on your brakes, which will only make matters worse and could cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
As always, refrain from driving if you have been drinking or if you are on any type of medication that could impair your judgement. Wear your seatbelt at all times, and if an accident does occur, remain in your vehicle until help arrives.
Our South Carolina Car Accident Attorneys are Here to Help
Car crashes and collisions can happen to even the safest and most experienced of drivers. If you or someone you know has suffered injuries as the result of an accident, contact our South Carolina car accident attorneys today. At the Joye Law Firm, we can advise you on how to hold responsible parties accountable for the damages you have suffered, so that you can get the compensation you need to recover. We have offices in North Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Clinton, and Columbia; call or contact us online today to see how we can help you.