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Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas

Visual Limitations of Driving in Rain, Snow and Sun

You and your family are on your way back from the holiday weekend at your in-laws, and you still have roughly two more hours of driving before you’ll be home. However, your trip has been delayed due to a freak torrential downpour. Since you could barely see three feet in front of you, your wife made you pull over at a rest stop until the rain eased up a little. After 45 minutes, the rain stopped, and you loaded your family back into the car just as the clouds were parting.

Thankfully, you’re now back on the road, and you can see the sun trying to break through the clouds. Everything is back on track and wonderful—until the sun completes its breakout. Suddenly the road lights up like a disco ball. Every single puddle, raindrop, and wet piece of grass reflects the newly-present sunlight and essentially blinds you.

You attempt to blink the spots out of your eyes to no avail. You decide that perhaps rubbing them would work better so you take your hands off the wheel for a split second, and all you hear as you put your hands to your eyes is your wife’s scream and brakes screech.

What happened? Did you run into someone, or did he run into you? How did this happen?

Visibility Risks Caused by Weather

Research performed by the Federal Highway Administration’s Road Weather Management  Program (RWMP) suggests that 1.3 million traffic accidents a year are weather related. Although most of these accidents are caused by slick roads and wet pavement, the RWMP estimates that over 30 percent of these collisions result from poor visibility. This means that nearly 400,000 accidents a year happen because a driver was essentially blind when operating his vehicle.

Visibility is the main factor in safe driving. If you can’t see, you can’t avoid potential threats. Lack of clear visibility is a significant problem during times of torrential downpours, blizzards, thick fog and even glaring sunshine. It is extremely important to recognize these visual risks of certain weather patterns so you can be better focused on driving.

Sunshine:

  • Glare and direct sunbeams can temporarily blind you or cause visual spotting
  • Reflected light can cause confusion and irritation
  • Mirage effect (waves on the horizon) can mimic blurred vision

Fog:

  • Thick fog can limit visibility to a few inches
  • Since fog is made up of millions of water droplets, it reflects light very easily, decreasing visibility even more
  • Mist reflections can distort shapes and light, making it difficult to judge distance

Snow and Rain:

  • Similar to fog, both snow and rain reflect light, making it difficult to see while also distorting images
  • Sheet rain or blizzards can block light from passing through, decreasing your visibility depth
  • Movement of rain and snow can cause confusion and distort visual aids, making it difficult to navigate as well as see cars and people ahead of you
  • Both snow and rain can also dull color hues, making a monochromatic landscape. Although this isn’t dangerous in itself, it can make it more difficult to focus on certain objects since they no longer stand out  

Accident Guidance When Visibility Fails

Weather can be extremely unpredictable and drivers’ reactions to weather effects can be downright impossible to fathom. However, if you and your family have suffered injuries due to a recent weather-related car accident, finding the help you need is certain. Contact us today for a free consultation. We know the ins and outs of car accident claims, and “the sun was in my eyes” or “I didn’t see you through the rain” are not viable excuses to keep you from getting the settlement you deserve from the driver who caused your accident. Call now to see how we can help you and your family get the treatment, peace of mind, and injury compensation you rightfully deserve. Rain or shine, we’re here for you!

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