Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents in Bad Weather

Winter Storm Jonas, the record-setting 2016 blizzard that blanketed much of the nation’s East Coast and resulted in at least 20 deaths—reportedly most from traffic accidents—is a sober reminder as to how bad weather can lead to serious consequences on the road.

Or is driver carelessness rather than bad weather the larger contributor to deadly traffic accidents?

That’s the question the AAA Foundation, a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to prevent traffic accidents, tackled in a timely new study. It reviewed injuries and deaths in motor vehicle crashes from 2010 to 2014, specifically looking for weather and road-related issues.

Researchers considered such bad weather factors as rain, sleet, fog, and rain. They also tallied accidents that happened on wet, snowy, or icy roads. They compared these accidents to those that occurred during good weather or on good roads.

Thousands Die in Bad Weather Traffic Crashes

The study reports that over 5,000 deaths occurred in motor vehicle crashes each year during bad weather conditions or on unsafe roads over this five-year period. Between 2010 and 2014, bad weather or bad road crashes accounted for:

  • 21 percent of all traffic accidents
  • 18 percent of all motor vehicle accident injuries
  • 16 percent of all fatalities in car and truck crashes

More specifically, 18 percent of crashes in Missouri and Illinois and 10 other Midwest states happened during bad weather.

None of this is surprising. It seems common sense that driving is dangerous in stormy weather or on slippery roads and, therefore, can lead to catastrophic car and truck accidents.

Other findings of the AAA Foundation study are more eye-opening.

Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents on Slick Roads

According to the research, crashes occurring in bad weather or on slick roads tended to be less serious than those in good conditions. Motor vehicle crashes on roads covered in snow versus dry roads had:

  • 31 percent fewer injuries per accident
  • 47 percent fewer deaths per accident

And car and truck crashes on icy roads actually had 29 percent fewer deaths than crashes on dry roadways.

While bad weather crashes are a critical problem, it appears that most drivers likely take snow or rain into account and act responsibly by slowing down and being more cautious.

It’s the speeding trucker or inattentive motorist during good weather – a more everyday occurrence – who cause the most injuries and traffic crash deaths.

If you were seriously hurt or had a family member killed in a crash caused by another driver, an attorney who represents motor vehicle accident victims can identify all obvious and not-so-obvious contributing factors and pursue justice on your behalf.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.