Rains, snow, hurricanes, winds, tornadoes, fog, dust storms and other weather issues can be devastating for drivers on the road. Recently at 10:55 AM on May 1st, 2023, at least 60 to 80 vehicles suffered a car crash pileup due to a dust storm blowing on Interstate 55 in Illinois that reduced visibility to zero.
In August 2017, the Hockessin, New Castle County in Delaware suffered an immense car crash that shows how the weather can turn out to be a nightmare for lots of road users. First responders and law enforcement spent most hours of the day almost all month responding to all manner of auto accidents across the board. The accidents were reported to start as early as 6 AM and continued all day.
In all these scenarios, lots of people were seriously injured. Troopers, county paramedics, police officers and fire companies were involved managing the aftermath sometimes in over 10 car accidents throughout the day with severe and minor injuries reported apart from vehicle and property damage. The reason was because of a steady rain throughout the county that made the roads slippery, affected vision and basically put every driver on the road in danger.
Around September 11th 2017, the matter was even graver in parts of Florida such as Jacksonville as the areas registered the worst flooding in over a century. The floods spread to areas of coastal Georgia and followed serious storm surges across South Carolina’s Charleston. With over 155k people across Florida already in shelters and six million others living without power, the hurricane and the serious elements that follow can be devastating for anyone, particularly road users. Six people were pronounced dead in car accidents across Florida with fatalities expected to go up attributed to the raging storm. In Hardee County, even law enforcement officers were not spared on the roads as two of them died instantly after a head-on collision with each other in the storm.
According to the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, you have every reason to be careful while using roads during rough weather. While such elements as hurricanes and rapid wind speeds can be almost unavoidable, you have every reason to be alert and aware about the impact weather events have on roads. Being prepared means you can know what to do when you find yourself in the eye of the storm, poor visibility, blowing snow, high wind speed among other circumstances.
Through bad weather, visibility is heavily impacted upon. When you cannot really see clearly ahead due to fog, mist or heavy rain it can be hard to prepare for any eventuality. High winds and precipitation as well as extreme temperatures have an impact on safe driving as well as vehicle performance in terms of maneuverability, stability and traction, friction on pavement, road infrastructure, traffic flow and crash threat. All these factors can play into a gigantic deathly pileup or constant accidents until the rough weather has subsided.
Wind speed is something to pay attention to. It affects visibility distance as the dust or blowing snow cloud everything and impact traffic speed, accident risk and travel delays. The performance of the vehicle is affected, particularly stability and evacuation if the need be.
Precipitation is also impacted upon by weather with an effect on visibility distance, lane obstruction and pavement friction. The performance of the car, behavior of the driver, traffic signal watch and timing, speed limit controls among others are affected. Water level is also another weather hazard that triples the accident risk and impact access control, evacuation support decisions and support coordination by institutions.
Transportation Federal Highway Administration puts weather related car crashes as over 1,259,000 annually and take place in adverse circumstances such as severe crosswinds, fog, rain, blowing debris, sand and snow, floods as well as sleet. Always watch the weather and keep up with updates and safety guidelines in case of immediate changes in the behavior of the elements.
Originally published on September 19, 2017. Updated on May 7, 2023.