Accidents Caused by Bad Weather
Georgia's weather is unpredictable, to put it mildly. Whether it's dealing with snow in Atlanta on Christmas Day or suffering lashing rains in July, Georgians must be prepared for the worst weather whenever they step outside.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, about 22% of all accidents each year are weather-related. In total, over 1 million accidents each year are caused by bad weather. Since you cannot expect every day to be sunny and 70 degrees, Georgia drivers need to learn how to drive safely in all sorts of inclement weather. And if someone crashes into you because they are too reckless, you should meet with a Georgia car accident attorney to discuss your options.Rain, Snow, Sleet, and Fog
Generally, bad weather causes accidents in two ways: it can make the vehicle harder to handle, or the weather can impair the driver's ability to see, which leads to accidents. Consider the following:
Rain can impair a driver’s vision, especially in a heavy downpour. If you try to use your headlights, then the light often reflects off the rain, blinding you. Rain also can cause a driver to lose control of a vehicle. For example, your car might hydroplane, which occurs when a thin layer of water builds up under the tires, causing the vehicle to lose contact with the road. When a car hydroplanes, it can go in any different direction, and the driver is helpless to stop it.
Fog likewise impairs a driver’s ability to see—sometimes dramatically. As with rain, turning on the high beams does not seem to work. Instead, visibility actually worsens. Because of their inability to see, drivers might plow straight into another vehicle or drive off the road, injuring themselves in the process.
Snow, though rare in Georgia, can cause roads to become too slick for many people to operate their vehicles safely. Drivers will fly off the roads or spin out when trying to brake. Like snow, sleet can impair your ability to see and control your vehicle at the same time.High Winds
Extreme winds deserve a separate discussion. Wind can make it very difficult to drive. For example:
- High winds can blow debris into the road, which either strikes a vehicle or causes a driver to swerve to avoid a crash.
- High winds can destabilize a vehicle, causing it to roll over, especially when trying to make a turn while going uphill or downhill.
- High winds can blow sand, dirt, and snow onto the road, blinding a driver.
- High winds can cause powerlines to fall, which can lead to electrocution or fires.
Like rain and snow, high winds can also close down roads, forcing drivers to travel routes they are not familiar with. As a result, drivers are at an increased risk of crashing because they do not know where they are going.Precautions during Bad Weather
Even when Georgia’s weather is at its worst, drivers can still protect themselves by making good decisions. Remember to practice road safety at all times.
If it is snowing, you might want to wait before heading out. Snow typically does not last long in Georgia. It should melt quickly after falling. However, while it is falling, it can accumulate and render roads deadly. If possible, delay any trip. Alternately, you might take public transportation. Although public transportation is not 100% safe in bad weather, you can at least avoid any damage to your vehicle should you skid off the road.
In rain and fog, remember not to use your high beams. Instead, keep the beams on low and always maintain a safe distance between you and any vehicles. If you literally cannot see, pull over to the side of the road or off the road, if possible. Wait out the weather and resume your trip once conditions improve.
Driving slower than normal is good advice in all types of bad weather. Doing so gives you additional time to react to any debris or traffic accidents in front of you. You are also less likely to lose control of your vehicle by traveling slowly.
When driving in strong winds, remember to keep both hands on the steering wheel. Also try to get clear of large vehicles, like tractor-trailers, which might rollover because of high winds. If necessary, slow down to give them a wide berth or travel on a road with fewer tractor-trailers.Steering Out of a Skid
If you are out on the road during a snow or sleet storm, you might feel your vehicle begin to fishtail. In particular, the front or rear wheels might begin to skid out to the left or right. In this situation, what should you do?
First, keep both hands on the steering wheel. Then, try to undo whatever it is that has caused the skid. For example, if you started to skid when you accelerated, gently remove your foot from the accelerator. Also, remember to keep your eyes on the location where you want your car to go. This will improve your hand-eye coordination, which can help you steer out of the skid.
If your rear wheels are skidding, then steer into the skid. This means if your rear wheels are being pulled to the left, then turn the steering wheel to the left. Conversely, if your front wheels are skidding, then straighten your steering wheel.
Remember that if you have ABS brakes, you can step firmly on the brakes and continue to steer. That is the entire purpose of this brake design—it allows you to continue steering while the brakes slow down your vehicle.Bad Weather and Other Drivers
Bad weather is challenging in its own right. However, bad weather also can cause other drivers to engage in careless or reckless driving. As an example, a driver might not slow down during a rainstorm but instead try to race through it. In fact, refusing to reduce speed during inclement weather is a major contributing factor to car accidents.
If someone’s careless driving in bad weather caused your accident, you might have a valid legal claim against them. You might be able to receive compensation for bodily injury, property damage, and emotional distress. Meet with a Georgia car accident attorney to review your case.