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Study: light rain still heightens risk for fatal crashes

According to a Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the presence of rain, snow or ice on the road makes a fatal car accident 34% more likely. Florida residents should also know that, according to a new study from the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, even a light drizzle raises the risk for a fatal car crash.

This study is the first to use weather radar data to determine if it was raining during a crash and how much. Past studies have had to use the less precise information given in police reports and by the weather station nearest to the crash. Researchers analyzed 125,012 fatal car crashes in all. These were reported between 2006 and 2011 in almost every state.

The conclusion was that even a light drizzle will increase the chances of a fatal crash by 27%. Moderate rain increases it by 75% while heavy rain raises the risk 250%.

The Northern Rockies and Upper Midwest experience the highest risk of rain- and snow-related crashes. The lowest risk was found in the Northeast and Southeast. The reason, researchers think, may be that drivers on the East Coast, being in more urban areas, are forced to travel more slowly in heavy traffic.

When motor vehicle accidents occur in bad weather and it is determined that one party is more to blame than the other, the one who is less at fault may consider filing a personal injury claim. Their degree of fault will lower whatever amount they receive, so victims may want to see a lawyer and ask whether they should move forward with such a claim. If retained, the lawyer might hire third parties to investigate the crash and gather proof against the defendant.

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