Slippery Road Conditions May Have Been Responsible for L.A. Crashes

road surface

Road PavementReports indicate that slick roads may have been the cause of a six crash chain reaction involving a total of 16 cars on Highway 101 in Hollywood on the morning of January 25, 2013. The accident resulted in one infant and seven others taken to an area hospital – one of whom was listed in critical condition.

Wet pavement is responsible for over 77% of total weather-related fatalities.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the chain of events that would immobilize the southbound lanes of the 101 near Barham in Hollywood all started with a single crash that occurred twenty minutes past midnight. Five additional crashes would follow. At one point, when an occupant of one of the vehicles involved in one of the crashes exited his vehicle, he was struck by another driver involved in the pile up. Highway patrol officials have stated that they do not believe alcohol was involved in any of the crashes and do not believe that any of the drivers will be charged.

Slick Road Accident Statistics

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 24% of all vehicle crashes are weather related. Over 7,000 people are killed each year nationally due to weather conditions. Wet pavement is responsible for over 77% of total weather-related fatalities. Reduced pavement friction causes tires to slip, thus making it difficult for drivers to stop in time.

Speed Correlation with Skid Resistance

Although modern pavements are designed to be fairly skid-resistant, friction is decreased considerably at higher speeds. Thus, majority of accidents involving slick roads are speed related. Following distance is by all means a factor when considering speeds during adverse weather conditions. Generally speaking, as the tire’s velocity increases, skid resistance decreases, no matter the condition of the road surface. This is supported by the concept of slip speed, or general velocity used in studying road surfaces by various government and legal bodies. For more information on skid resistance, see “Evaluation of Pavement Friction Characteristics” synthesis by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP).

Take Precautionary Measure to Reduce Risk

This unfortunate series of early morning car accidents just goes to show how important it is for vehicle operators everywhere to stay alert and drive aware. With 16 car crashes reported that night, it is likely that at least some of those could have been prevented. Slick roads are not something that Los Angeles drivers usually encounter, but with cautious driving, no distractions, and environmental awareness, they can be just as safe to traverse as dry roads.

Unfortunately, no amount of planning can shield even the most cautious of drivers from the risk of being involved in some kind of vehicle related accident, especially in a place with roads as congested as Los Angeles. By following some simple tips, they can, however, be more prepared for a collision if it does happen.

Simple Safety Tips:

  • Slow down.
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles, especially when adverse road conditions are present.
  • Always drive with a seat belt, no matter how short a journey is. Even if you’re traveling at a safe speed, there is no guarantee that other drivers are doing the same. The statistics and stories of survivors don’t lie – seat belts save lives.
  • Never exit your vehicle following an accident on a highway or busy road.  We have discussed this issue in a previous post but it’s worth mentioning again. Pull over to a parking lot or other designated parking area. If this isn’t possible, stay bucked up in the vehicle until emergency responders or a tow truck arrives. Wait for instructions of emergency responders.
  • If you’re approaching an accident on the roadway, slow down safely and focus on the road. As a matter of social responsibility, you may not want to assume that the authorities have been alerted to an accident that looks bad – if you decide to call for assistance on behalf of the victims, exit the highway or roadway and find a safe place to park before making the call. You may be a bit nervous and flustered by the questions, so you will want to afford the operator your full attention.
  • Finally, remember that the speed limit isn’t a requirement, especially when road conditions warrant slower speeds. On slick or icy roads, it’s best to drive below the speed limit, not to match it.

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