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Study: even light rain makes fatal car crash likelier

Virginia residents already know that heavy rain, ice and snow greatly increase the risk for car crashes. The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has stated that these elements increase the risk for fatal crashes by 34%. However, even light rain has a negative effect, as one study from the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies has found.

Researchers studied 125,012 fatal car crashes that occurred in the lower states from 2006 to 2011, using weather radar data to find out if it was raining at the time of each crash and how much. This is more precise than information from the nearest weather station or from police reports, which previous studies have had to rely on. In fact, this is the first study of its kind to use such data. Researchers also factored in the number of cars on the road.

They calculated that moderate rain makes a fatal car crash 75% more likely, and light rain makes it 27% more likely. Heavy rain raises the chances two and a half times.

Regions had the highest risk were the Northern Rockies and Upper Midwest. The lowest risk was found in the Northeast and Southeast; researchers speculate that this may be because the East Coast is more urban and forces drivers to move more slowly.

In the event that someone is involved in a weather-related motor vehicle accident and survives, he or she may still suffer serious injuries and other losses. If one of the drivers or passengers is found free of fault for the crash, that person is eligible file a claim against the other driver. Since Virginia follows a pure contributory negligence rule, even 1% of fault will bar a person from recovering damages. The victim may want a lawyer to evaluate the case before moving forward.

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