Rain-Slicked Roads a Hazard to Maine Motorists

A series of massive rainstorms over Maine recently set a daily rainfall record in Portland, with nearly 6 inches of water. In nearby Searsport, the precipitation reached almost 10 inches a day.

The storms made headlines as they caused flooding throughout the state, cut off roadway access and in some cases, reached as high as the windows of passing vehicles.

This kind of weather, which is treacherous to anyone caught driving, may seem an anomaly. However, as the Bangor Daily News reported, these kind of “extreme” rain and snow storms are likely here to stay. That assertion is according to a 2012 study that revealed the frequency of these “extreme” events has increased dramatically. What used to happen once year is now happening two or three times, a 74 percent increase. As one meteorologist put it: The severe storms our grandparents experienced once a year when they were young are now happening every six- to- seven months.

The regularity of severe weather events is changing in many places in the world, but it’s been more dramatic here. For example, extreme storms have increased by 36 percent in Nevada, 26 percent in Ohio and 6 percent on the Pacific Coast. Ours has increased by nearly 75 percent. That has some calling Maine America’s new “monsoon capital.” Scientists have linked this to global warming

The Portland Society for Architecture released a study in 2013 that estimated a two-foot rise in sea level by 2050 will cost us $33 million in damage to city structures. If it doubles to four feet by 2100, that would mean $111 million in damage.

And none of that accounts for the inevitable uptick in Maine car accidents that will follow. It is undeniable that accident rates go up in rainy weather. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that weather can affect driver capabilities, vehicle performance, roadway infrastructure, traffic flow, pavement friction and crash risks. It can impair drivers’ visibility and, in the case of high water levels, can result in lane submersion that makes it difficult to pass safely.

Combine this with any other unsafe driving behavior, such as speeding or distraction, and the accident risk worsens.

AAA reports that wet pavement contributes to approximately 1.2 million motor vehicle crashes each year.

The safety organization advises drivers to avoid cruise control when it’s raining or the road is wet. It’s great in dry conditions, but on wet pavement, the driver risks losing control. Drivers need to maintain their full concentration and remember to slow down, leaving ample room for the vehicle ahead. Failure to do so can result in hydroplaning. Avoiding maneuvers like hard brakes or sharp turns will also help.

If a vehicle does begin to spin or skid on wet pavement, the key is not to panic. Continue to look and steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go. Also avoid slamming on the brakes, as this can further disrupt the balance of the vehicle, and put the driver and passengers at risk of injury in a rollover.

Make sure tires have the appropriate level of tread and that windshield wipers are in good working condition (don’t leave streaks and clear the glass in just one swipe).

If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

The science behind Maine’s extreme rainstorm and why we can expect many more like it, Oct. 1, 2015, By Seth Koenig, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:

Triple Fatal Maine Auto Accident Puzzles Investigators, Sept. 29, 2015, Portland Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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