Obliviousness to wet weather can be cause of wrongful death

We can't control the weather. If we could, someone would turn off the rain spigot that has been drenching Montgomery County and the rest of the Washington metro area for the past week and bring an end to the precipitation.

Lacking power to change meteorological facts doesn't mean we are off the hook when it comes to safety in public. Drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists all have an extra duty of care when conditions make the going tough. Failure to do so can be seen as negligence and if disregard results in serious or fatal injury, the law says victims and/or surviving loved ones have a right to seek compensation.

The constant presence or threat of rain in our region should have everyone thinking carefully about what they can do to make travel safer for themselves and everyone else. As a public service, here are some recommendations from AAA that seem worthwhile to take to heart.

At a base level, the driving organization urges vehicle owners to complete some basic maintenance. Replace wiper blades so they clear windows in a single sweep. Check all vehicle lights, front and back, and replace any that are out. And when driving in rain, turn headlights on for better visibility.

Tires should have adequate tread depth and pressure to be sure of maximum traction on wet surfaces. A Google search "tread depth coin checks" will deliver several simple suggestions on how to gauge things.

In addition to all that:

  • Don't use cruise control: While a very nice feature on long hauls in dry weather, a vehicle in cruise control can easily hydroplane going through water. The cruise system can't anticipate conditions and loss of control can result.
  • Widen the gap on the road: Even new tires can lose some contact with the road at as low as 35 mph. Slowing down reduces hydroplaning risks. Less traction means it takes longer to stop, so leaving extra space between you and the next vehicle makes sense.
  • Stay calm in a skid: If your vehicle happens to go into a skid, stay calm. Look and steer in the direction you want to go. Avoid hard braking.

Some things we can't control. Everyone can control certain things and we should.

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Steven H. Dorne

Attorney Steven H. Dorne

Attorney Steven H. Dorne is an accomplished lawyer who practices in state and federal courts in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. He brings more than 30 years of experience and a long record of success to each case. His law practice is distinguished by careful preparation and thorough analysis of each case...

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