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How does the weather impact road safety?

Karns & Kerrison

While there is a lot of talk about crazy drivers, speeders, drunk drivers and distracted drivers on the roadways in Rhode Island, it is not always other drivers that put you at risk for an accident. In fact, many accidents are caused by bad weather conditions.

The Federal Highway Administration explains the exact impact of different weather conditions and how they could lead to accidents on the roadways. There are three main weather conditions you need to understand. These are fog, wind speed and precipitation.

Fog's obvious hazard is limiting visibility. While it depends on the density, fog will limit how far you can see down the road in front, behind and on the sides of your vehicle. Your headlights cannot cut through dense fog and will actually bounce off it, further hindering your visibility. Fog will reduce traffic speeds.

Wind speed also plays havoc with drivers. If you are in a high profile vehicle and even you if drive a small car, you will be impacted by strong winds. They can lower the ability to control your vehicle and keep it moving straight on the roadway. It can also blow snow across roadways if it is present, causing dangerous drifts and reducing visibility, or blow other debris across the road, creating additional risks.

Precipitation is an obvious road hazard. Rain and snow make the roadways slippery. They can also reduce visibility. They require reduced speeds and more control over your vehicle to avoid accidents.

The best way to avoid weather-related accidents is to be aware of road conditions. Pay attention to weather reports before heading out on the roads and adjust your driving habits accordingly. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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