Weather changes in PA increases risk of accidents

Weather conditions can create dangerous situations for drivers, raising their risk of getting into a car accident.

For many people in Pittsburg, fall is their favorite season. They love to watch the leaves on the trees change to shades of red, orange and yellow; dig out their warm sweaters again; decorate the front of their homes with pumpkins and hay bales; and get out the baking pans for pies, breads and stews.

However with fall also comes weather changes which may include rain, ice and even snow. As the roads become wetter, it is important for drivers to take protective measures. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation states that in weather conditions contributed to over 26,000 crashes in 2014. The majority of those traffic accidents were attributed to rain, rain and fog, snow, sleet and freezing rain.

Reduced visibility

The Federal Highway Administration states that weather conditions can greatly reduce drivers' ability to see the environment around them. Most people have been in situations where they can barely make out the rear lights of the car in front of them, especially in heavy fog or rain. Often times, drivers are caught by surprise as a light sprinkle suddenly turns into a downpour.

To lower the risk of getting into an accident, Smart Motorists gives the following suggestions:

  • Turn the headlights on to improve visibility to other motorists
  • Stay further back from tractor trailers and SUVs to avoid a large spray from hitting the windshield.
  • Check windshield wipers and replace if they are brittle or old
  • Avoid driving in thunderstorms, heavy rainfall or if it is night and raining. If drivers are on the road, they should pull over till visibility improves.

Drivers can also buy a product for their windshield that is designed to cause water to bead up. This can help give them more visibility in wet weather.

Lost traction

Safe Motorist says that when it first starts to rain, the water and the oil on the road mixes together. A tire's treads are designed to move water away from the surface, thereby maintaining the traction. However, if there is too much water, the treads cannot move it all and the tire loses contact with the road. When this occurs, the car goes into what is called hydroplaning.

To avoid this problem, it is important for drivers to slow down during rough weather conditions and turn off any cruise control. Hitting the brakes is a bad idea since this action can lock the wheels and make a risky situation a dangerous one. Drivers should make sure that their tires are regularly checked and maintained to ensure that they are in the best condition. Standing water and puddles should be avoided and turns should be wider and slower.

Despite drivers' best precautions, they cannot prevent other motorists from acting in a reckless or negligent manner. Therefore, when a traffic accident occurs and people in Pittsburgh are injured, it would be a good idea to talk to a personal injury attorney.