A study suggests that's because motorists don't adapt their driving to the conditions.
Every rainy day sees an average of 16 serious injuries on UK roads as drivers fail to adapt to the conditions, according to new research.
Analysis of road accident data by car insurance firm Churchill found that, over the past two years, just under 5,000 crashes on wet days have resulted in serious injuries or death - the equivalent of 16 per rainy day. It’s a terrifying statistic that Churchill associates with further research, which it says shows drivers are “ignoring hazardous weather conditions” and “refusing to meaningfully reduce their speed” when driving in wet weather.
The company’s analysis of more than 27,000 vehicles over a 48-hour period found that drivers reduce their speed by just 0.7 percent when the heavens open. In wet conditions, with surface water on the road after rainfall, the research found that drivers reduce their speed by just 0.8 percent.
This data, Churchill says, shows that drivers are failing to reduce their speed by any significant amount in wet conditions, despite the Highway Code telling drivers that stopping distances “at least” double in wet weather.
However, the research threw up some results that were arguably even more worrying. Almost half (48 percent) of the vehicles observed by Churchill were exceeding the speed limit in wet or rainy conditions, with seven percent topping 80 mph. Meanwhile HGV drivers increased their average speed by 1.4 percent when driving in the rain - a finding Churchill described as “concerning”.
And drivers, it seems, are candid about their lack of adjustment to poor weather. Churchill surveyed more than 2,000 people, and found that more than half (55 percent) admitted not slowing down in the rain. Similarly, 38 percent said they don’t slow down in windy conditions, while almost a third (31 percent) don’t slow down on wet roads. And strangely, those who rate themselves as poor drivers are less likely to adapt their speed for bad weather.
Alex Borgnis, the head of Car Insurance at Churchill, said drivers were putting themselves at increased risk of an accident by failing to slow for bad weather and urged motorists to think more carefully about the conditions.
“We urge drivers to take extra care and adapt to wet weather conditions on the roads or they increase the risk of being involved in an accident,” he said. “Additional surface water can result in aquaplaning, which, when combined with poor visibility can make driving extremely dangerous. Reducing speed and increasing braking distances can give drivers extra seconds to react and has the potential to prevent a serious accident.”