by John Gomez | Last Updated: November 21, 2016
Rain arrived earlier this week in Southern California. As is seemingly always the case, it wreaked havoc on the freeways here. The car accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys hope that everyone drove safely on Sunday and Monday.
According to several reports hundreds of crashes occurred in the area. Fortunately, the vast majority of these collisions were minor in nature. However, as we approach what are normally the wet months on the calendar we’d like to offer some information regarding common causes of weather-related car accidents and present some ideas for avoiding them.
The bottom line is that motorists need to prepare themselves for driving in the rain before they get behind the wheel. Doing do could make an enormous difference in terms of the result of that trip.
5 Common Causes of Weather-Related Car Accidents in Southern California
Clearly, when the term “weather-related car accidents” is used in Southern California, it refers to rain. Fortunately, people here do not have to drive in snow or in ice unless they are driving in the mountains. However, periodic heavy rain presents its own dangers to anyone who is on the road while there is precipitation in the area. Below are 5 common causes of weather-related car accidents in Southern California:
- Oil – Oil is a particularly dangerous condition when driving in the rain. This danger is at its highest during the 10 – 15 minutes after the rain begins. When months pass between rains, oil from vehicles tends to gather on asphalt. When that oil initially gets wet, the roads become extremely slippery. After enough rain has fallen, the oil is generally washed out and this danger dissipates to a degree.
- Visibility – Everyone who drives in Southern California understands that while it does not rain often, it can rain quite heavily when it falls. Heavy rain significantly diminishes visibility. Many times, all we can see are the brake lights and headlights of other vehicles. Even seeing our lane markers can prove to be a challenge.
- Maneuverability – People who drive on the freeways of Southern California in particular understand the periodic need to take evasive measures from time to time to avoid a potentially serious problem. It is more difficult to maneuver most vehicles in the rain than it is in good weather for several reasons. This problem can cause weather-related car accidents.
- Mindset – There are several different mindsets that, when driving in the rain in Southern California, are dangerous. One example is the person who refuses to acknowledge the weather and drives too fast for the conditions. Another is a person who is overly cautious and stressed because of the weather. This can lead to poor decisions that can prompt mistakes from others.
- Natural Traffic – One of the overlooked aspects of the high number of weather-related car accidents that occur in the area is the number of vehicles on the road in the first place. The federal government estimates that in San Diego County, nearly 600,000 vehicles drive on Interstate 5 and Interstate 15 alone on a daily basis. Crowded roads always lead to more potential for disastrous crashes.
5 Ideas for Avoiding Weather-Related Car Accidents
Despite the relative rarity of rain in Southern California, the fact is that we will all have to face driving in these difficult conditions several times per year. Below you’ll find 5 ideas that may help you avoid the common causes of accidents and becoming one of the many people involved in weather-related car accidents:
- Eye discipline – Driver’s education taught us that we should always be scanning our surroundings with our eyes while driving. As we’ve spent more time behind the wheel, many of us have fallen out of that habit. It is critical to maintain eye discipline while driving in the rain. Scan your environment constantly, as unexpected things can and usually do happen in this environment.
- Reduce speed – You need to allow yourself more time to make decisions and, if necessary, maneuvers in the rain. Reducing your speed will provide you with some extra time. You should also give yourself extra time on your schedule. Leave 15 – 20 minutes earlier than you would have in good weather. That will eliminate the temptation to drive too fast.
- Extra room – We have all been conditioned in Southern California to become comfortable with vehicles that are close to each other on the roads. It’s a natural result of heavy traffic volume. You should consider going against that norm in the rain, however. Provide yourself with more room than you would normally think you need. Vehicles need 2-3 times more space to stop safely in wet conditions than they do when the weather is good.
- Center lane – Most roads are built with a slight crown, or slope on each side to allow for drainage of liquids. That means that when it rains, it’s likely that water will gather on the far inside and far outside lanes. In order to avoid hydroplaning, try to stay in the middle lane or lanes where it’s more likely to be dry.
- Remain calm – We have all driven when we were stressed over something or angry. Most would agree that it is more difficult than driving while calm. Do what you can to remain calm if you are driving in the rain. This could make all the difference between being involved in an accident and arriving at your destination safely.
How San Diego Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
One unavoidable reality with regards to weather-related car accidents is that even if you do everything right while driving in the rain, you could still be involved in a crash. You can only control your own thoughts and actions, and it’s quite possible that another motorist will make a mistake that leads you into an unavoidable situation.
If this happens to you, you need to take steps to make sure that you protect your legal rights. While rain makes driving more difficult, it does not remove the possibility that other drivers can act negligently.
If you need help, contact a San Diego car accident lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation.
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.