Damp fools

There might be someone in this state who has never said “These jokers can’t drive in the rain,” but it’s no one I’ve ever met.

Well, children, the drizzle is settled:

Even in weather docile enough to simply dampen one’s hair, death stalks the roadways like a vulture seeking out scraps of rancid meat.

The study, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society and first reported on by the Associated Press, shows precipitation of all types increases deadly crash risk by 24 percent. In reaching their conclusion, researchers at the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies probed 125,012 fatal car crashes in the continental U.S. from 2006 to 2011.

This study went beyond the sometimes vague police reports, analyzing the exact precipitation rate at the place and time of the crash using weather radar. While most drivers cut their speed sharply when it starts raining heavily, sometimes just for visibility reasons, the team was surprised to see just how deadly light rain is.

Just driving in light rain — “We’re talking a drizzle, just at the point where you might consider taking an umbrella out,” according to study lead author Scott Stevens — increased the chance of a fatal crash by 27 percent.

It gets worse as it gets wetter:

Moderate rain, Stevens said, boosts the chance of a fatal crash by 73 percent. In heavy rain? It’s two-and-a-half times greater.

You don’t have to tell me twice.


  1. jsallison »

    14 May 2019 · 7:38 pm

    I’ve read in the past that the early stages of a rain after a long dry period are worst as the rain lifts oils from the roadbed and it hasn’t rained long enough to wash them off.

    There’ve been times I averaged less than 50 mph on 44 twixt Lawton and OKC due to rain. And on a couple of memorable occasions I’ve pulled in to the Chickasha EZGo-McD’s and parked, once for two hours. Of course, I didn’t leave hungry. ;)

    Worst is when the road is just wet enough to not reflect your headlights. Road markings? We don’t need no steengkeeng roadmarkings…

  2. CGHill »

    14 May 2019 · 7:57 pm

    Yep. All the oil and gunk in the road is loosened up just enough to make traction theoretical at best.

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