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Road safety in ever-changing weather conditions

There's no doubt that weather has an effect on drivers. Some fear driving in the snow or rain, while others take risks because they feel they can maneuver the same in any conditions. Weather is a major factor in the safety of roadways, too, and combined with dangerous drivers, these factors can lead to serious injuries and deaths.

In fact, thanks to changing weather conditions, a road can become dangerous to drivers after just a few minutes of rain, sleet or snow. It's important to understand how weather impacts driving to help prevent accidents.

For example, with air temperature and humidity changes, there may be few changes to the roads. However, road treatments and construction can be affected, so drivers need to be aware of construction zones and those treating the roadways to be sure they're not injured by passing traffic.

Wind is one factor that people don't often feel impacts the roads, but it does. It can affect visibility because of dust or snow blowing across the streets. It can cause debris to blow into the road and cause accidents. Traffic may slow to avoid accidents.

Rain is another factor that doesn't seem it would affect drivers much, but it can be very dangerous. Visibility is limited, there is less friction on the pavement and lanes become obstructed by puddles and pools of water. These issues can slow traffic and make speeding or being distracted particularly dangerous, since traffic may come to a standstill quickly.

Weather itself is an act of nature, but acting negligently in poor conditions can still result in a driver being charged for negligence or dangerous acts.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, "How Do Weather Events Impact Roads?," accessed Jan. 11, 2016

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