As a driver in California, you might not think that the winter brings hazardous conditions that can lead to a car accident. While your friends and relatives in other parts of the country battle snow, ice, and heavy freezing rain, you enjoy moderate temperatures and year-round sunshine. But do not let the mild weather lull you into the mindset that you cannot be involved in an accident because of the weather. In November 2015, a severe dust storm caused a 20-car accident in the San Joaquin Valley. Earthquakes, flooding, wildfires and even landslides can also put you and your passengers in danger on California roadways.
Car accidents happen in California and throughout the United States every day. These accidents can be attributed to a variety of causes, such as drunk driving, distracted driving, failure to obey the speed limit and other posted traffic warnings, and pedestrian or driver error. Weather can also be a factor in a car accident, either on its own or alongside another contributing cause. No matter what caused your accident, you could be entitled to monetary compensation for your losses through a personal injury claim. Find out more about this possibility by working with an experienced personal injury attorney.
California Car Accident Statistics
In 2013, 3,000 people died in 2,772 fatal car accidents in California. In 2010, California saw a total of 416,490 car accidents.
Because California tends to have fairly dry weather, rainstorms can be especially dangerous for motorists. Many drivers are not familiar with driving in the rain and in areas that experience droughts, the dry ground does not effectively absorb the rainwater, creating puddles and flooding. According to The Flood Safety Education Project, from 1960 to 1995, California was ranked second in the United States for flood fatalities, with a recorded 255 deaths linked with flooding. Most of these fatalities were in car accidents.
Weather Impact on California Car Accidents
Seventy-four percent of the weather-related car accidents that occurred in the United States from 2002-2012 were caused in part or in full by wet pavement. Rain, the second-most likely type of weather condition to contribute to a collision, caused 46 percent of accidents during this time period.
Adverse weather conditions can contribute to car accidents in a number of ways. In addition to the sliding and difficulty gripping the road that comes with rainy weather and wet pavement, rain, snow, and dust storms can severely impact a driver’s visibility. Other types of precipitation, like dense fog and sleet, can also make it difficult for a driver to see the road, other vehicles, and any hazards in the roadway.
High winds can also make it difficult for a driver to maintain his or her speed and lane, especially in taller vehicles like vans and commercial trucks.
When an area floods, it can become difficult or impossible for cars to operate safely on the road. Shallow puddles can lead to hydroplaning and loss of control, while deeper puddles can lead to water inside vehicles’ engines, leading to engine and body damage.
Keep Yourself Safe from Weather-Related Car Accidents
Although there is no way to completely eliminate your risk of being involved in a car accident, there are steps you can take to minimize the chance of this happening.
Always check your car thoroughly before driving. Take a look over your tires, check your oil and windshield wiper fluid levels, your exhaust, and your ignition. If something does not look or sound right about your car, figure out the problem and address it before leaving. An unaddressed mechanical issue can lead to your being stranded or put you at risk of being involved in an accident.
When you are driving through difficult weather conditions, use your judgment to adjust your driving style to your environment. This often means driving at a slower speed and allowing for a greater following distance between yourself and other vehicles. In difficult weather, your car will need a greater distance to come to a full stop after braking. Give it that distance by observing safe speed and following practices on the road.
San Diego Car Accident Lawyers
Car accidents can happen any time of year. If you have been involved in a car accident in California this winter, you could be entitled to monetary compensation for the expenses you faced as a result of your injury. Work with an experienced San Diego car accident attorney to file and pursue a personal injury claim to seek the money you deserve. Our team of experienced San Diego car accident lawyers at Martinez & Schill LLP can answer your questions and handle your case with compassion while aggressively pursuing compensation for your losses.