Every year, an average of 5,748,000 vehicle crashes occur in the U.S., according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
One of the top contributors to this statistic is inclement weather. Of the nearly six million vehicle crashes that occur in the U.S., weather-related accidents account for 22% — or 1,259,000 — of that total.
Informing your fleet's drivers about proper wet-weather driving procedures and equipping their vehicles with the right set of tires can go a long way in reducing the chance of an accident.
Snow, icy roads, and fog are all factors that contribute approximately 1.3 million annual weather-related accidents. However, rain and wet roads are far and ahead, the biggest contributor to weather-related accidents.
While 17% of weather-related accidents occur during snow or sleet, and 3% occur during fog, nearly three-quarters of weather-related car crashes occur on wet pavement, according to the DOT. On average, wet-pavement-related accidents account for 352,221 injuries, and 4,488 deaths every year, according to DOT data.
Tire Rack, which has been in business for over 30 years, tests its tires for wet-weather conditions via a wet weather simulation on its test track.
To simulate the kind of road a driver may drive on during or after a rainy day; the company's test track features a sprinkler system that coats the test track's road in water. This allows traction, handling, and braking distance to be analyzed under consistent wet road conditions.
However, having the proper tires is only one step in reducing the likelihood of an accident during wet weather. Experts at Tire Rack have provided five tips to reduce the likelihood of one of your drivers being involved in a wet-weather-related accident:
The tire's tread pattern channels rainwater so your tire stays safely in contact with the road – but only if the tread is deep enough. To evaluate your tire tread, Tire Rack recommends a simple quarter test: Place a quarter upside down in the grooves of your tire. If some part of George Washington's head is covered by tread, you're good to go.
See and Be Seen
Turn on your headlights whenever you run your wipers to help other drivers see you through the rain and roadway mist.
Prepare Your Windshield
Make sure you can see where you're going. A solution like Aquapel Glass Treatment can take the power of good windshield wipers even further. The solution increases water repellency by forming a long-lasting bond with the glass.
No matter how much tread is left on your tires, it's always important to drive with caution in poor weather. Reduce your speed and maintain a safe stopping distance between you and other cars on the road.
If hydroplaning occurs, grasp the steering wheel firmly to maintain control of your vehicle. Steer straight ahead and don't slam on the brakes to help avoid skidding out of control.
Editor's note: Matt Edmonds is the vice president of Tire Rack.