Labor Day, according to the United States Department of Labor “is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” Many Americans celebrate the weekend with friends and family around the grill or the neighborhood pool, enjoying the last few days of summer. Unfortunately, Hurricane Isaac made outdoor celebrating a little trickier for Kentucky residents this year with heavy rains and the occasional thunderstorm. Based on the number of car accidents reported, it also made driving more difficult.
In 24 hours between Sunday and Monday evening, almost 80 car accidents occurred just in Lexington, with 17 of the crashes causing injury to at least one person. In Rockcastle County, there were five related wrecks on I-75 that involved 12 vehicles and shut down the highway for miles. And tragically, a motorcycle rider was killed in Louisville, Kentucky when he lost control of his motorcycle on the wet pavement on a curvy stretch of Brownsboro Road. He had returned from serving in the military in Saudi Arabia only 24 hours before the crash.
What caused all of these accidents, and what can be done to make Kentucky roads safer for drivers when the pavement is wet or it is raining? According to police involved in the cleanup of the 12-car accident scene in Rockcastle County, people were not paying attention. When it is raining outside, it is even more important to not be distracted while driving because wet roads may make it harder to stop and visibility may be reduced. An increase in traffic due to the holiday weekend may have worsened the situation. When more people are on the road, there are simply more cars to crash into. So drivers need to slow down, shut off their cell phones or radios, and stop trying to multi-task in the car when roadways are wet.
Police in Lexington and Louisville said the roads themselves were partially to blame in the holiday car wrecks as well. Lt. Dean Marcum in Lexington explained that because it had not rained for a while, oil from the cars had built up on the pavement and it became slick when the rain fell. Oil on the road was probably a factor in the fatal Louisville motorcycle crash too. Because there are many trees along the stretch of Brownsboro Road where the accident occurred, sap may have also contributed to the slippery conditions. Louisville police statistics show there have been almost 50 crashes on this section of 22 just in the last three years. High friction pavement has been added to parts of the road in question, but the accident scene had regular pavement.
As we hopefully enter the cooler temperatures of fall, there will likely be more rain coming. This is good news because it may help to clean the built-up oil and sap off the streets. But it also means visibility will be reduced and standing water on the roads can cause drivers to hydroplane. So be careful out there, especially if and when Mother Nature decides to give us some rain. And if you are involved in an accident, with or without rain, contact the Kentucky car accident attorneys at Miller and Falkner.
One dead, several injured in holiday weekend wrecks; Lexington Herald-Leader; Mary Meehan; September 3, 2012
New road improvements on Brownsboro after Air Force Captain died in motorcycle crash; WHAS 11; Gene Kang; September 4, 2012