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Fatal car crash risk goes up even in light rain

West Virginia motorists know that driving in heavy rain or snow can be dangerous, but what they may not know is that even driving in light rain can raise their risk for a fatal car crash. This was the conclusion of a study from the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies. Researchers looked at 125,012 fatal car crashes that occurred between 2006 and 2011 in the lower 48 states, taking into account the number of cars on the road when calculating crash risk.

What's more, though, is that this study is the first to utilize weather radar data in determining if it was raining or snowing at the time of a crash and how heavily. Previous studies on weather-related crashes have had to rely on the less precise information gathered in police reports and from weather stations nearest to the crash location.

With this data, researchers calculated that heavy rain more than doubles the risk for a fatal car crash. Moderate rain raises it by 75%. Light drizzle, though, was found to increase it by 27%. It could be less than one-tenth of an inch per hour, and yet it was found to put drivers in danger. The Northern Rockies and Upper Midwest saw the highest risk for rain- and snow-related crashes. The Northeast and Southeast saw the lowest.

A weather-related traffic accident, even if it is not fatal, can lead to severe injuries. Victims may lose income or be left with a disability that compromises their ability to find employment. If it can be determined that the motorist was driving too fast for prevailing road conditions, an attorney could be of assistance in seeking appropriate compensation.

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