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Weather-related crashes kill more than 7,000 annually

The weather plays a bigger role in our safety than we might imagine. Severe storm warnings can be very hazardous and cause significant damage to someone's home and neighborhood. Storms are usually to blame for causing property damage but the most dangerous threat people may face during a storm is when they are in their car.

A new study found that weather-related car accidents account for the most fatalities caused by the weather every year in the U.S., according to data from the Federal Highway Administration. The FHA reported that more than 7,000 people die every year in weather-related crashes.

A weather-related car accident is defined as an accident that happens during adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, sleet, fog or when the pavement is icy or slippery. While the media usually only covers multi-vehicle crashes that happen during snow storms or foggy conditions, the most common type of weather-related fatal car accident involves only one or two vehicles.

The study said that there is not much awareness of how the weather impacts car accidents in the U.S. but the findings show that car accidents are the number one cause of death during severe weather like blizzards, thunderstorms, hurricanes and other adverse weather.

To increase safety for drivers during severe weather, researchers are testing new technology that would allow vehicles to share information on weather and driving conditions with other vehicles on the road. Researchers are hoping this would help alert drivers to possible hazardous conditions on the road and decrease the number of car accidents caused by severe weather.

Since this technology is not available for drivers yet, people should always be aware of the weather and current road conditions before driving. In severe weather conditions, if at all possible, don't drive if it is not advised. People driving during storms that may not be listed as severe may still be at risk for being in an accident so it is important to remember to slow down, leave plenty of space between the vehicles around you, and be cautious while driving. It is also important to have a blanket and an emergency kit in your vehicle at all times to protect yourself while on the road.

Source: USA Today, "Nope, not tornadoes: Most weather deaths from car wrecks," Doyle Rice, April 4, 2013

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