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Inclement weather to blame in many deadly car accidents

While tornadoes, hurricanes and floods dominate news coverage, plain old inclement weather is the cause of more fatal car accidents annually than all three combined. 

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), more than 5,748,000 car accidents occur annually, based on statistics spanning from 2005 to 2014. Of these, 22 percent (roughly 1,259,000) involved bad weather conditions. 

Each year, weather related car accidents have killed around 5,900 people, which amounts to 16 percent of all motor vehicle deaths. For comparison, on average, 375 people die annually from flooding, lightning, heat, tornadoes and hurricanes, as per The Weather Channel

Most common weather-related accident causes include wet roads, wet or icy pavement, sleet and fog, as well as rain. Even a light rain drizzle during sub freezing temperatures can create icy roads and other treacherous conditions. 

Of particular hazard are rapidly, and unexpectedly, changing weather conditions, particularly those that decrease visibility to drivers. The rapid changes in visibility, often reducing it to a few feet in front of the vehicle, have been responsible for the majority of weather-related accidents. In many cases, these accidents also occur when drivers are speeding and unable to react properly and in time due to the decreased visibility.

In addition, even small amounts of ice on the roads can cause fatal accidents. Authorities, and the DOT, urge motorists and drivers to take extra caution during bouts of inclement weather, paying particular attention to the conditions and taking measures to prevent accidents, such as investing in snow tires and other measures. 

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