North East drivers are being urged to slow down when it's raining after figures revealed seven people were killed and 82 more were seriously injured when driving in the rain in the last year.
Highways England is launching a new safety campaign, warning drivers that 'when it rains, it kills'.
The latest statistics show that people are 30 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on the roads in rain than in snow.
The figures are for 2015, and show that in Sunderland, there were eight serious injuries from crashes in the rain, as well as one in the fog.
In South Tyneside, meanwhile, there were six serious injuries from crashes in the rain, while that number was two in Hartlepool, which also had two serious injuries in the fog.
County Durham's figures were much higher, with three people dying after crashes in the rain, and 15 more suffering serious injuries.
Two people sustained serious injuries in the snow, while one person died after an incident in foggy conditions, and there were three more serious injuries.
The figures also reveal that travelling too fast for the current conditions was identified as a factor in one in nine road deaths in Great Britain last year, with drivers failing to alter how they drive in response to changing conditions on the road.
Highways England is warning that even driving within the speed limit in wet weather could be dangerous if drivers don’t allow extra space between them and the vehicle in front.
The message is being reinforced with rain-activated paint messages visible to people leaving motorway services when it is raining.
A new road safety video has also been produced, directed by award-winning photographer Nadav Kander, which shows rain falling inside the home of a family imagined to have been involved in a serious road collision. The video is available to watch at https://youtu.be/KMHRmsyAKes.
Highways England’s head of road safety, Richard Leonard, said: “Most of us already slow down in snow, ice or fog, but when it rains we consider it normal so don’t adapt our driving.
“The sad fact is that 2,918 people were killed or seriously injured on the roads in Great Britain when it was raining last year, and not slowing down to suit the current conditions was identified as a factor in one in nine of all road deaths.
“Rain makes it harder for tyres to grip the road and harder for drivers to see ahead – significantly increasing the chances of being involved in a collision.
"We’ve launched our new campaign to make drivers aware of the dangers and to stay safe.”
It generally takes at least twice as long to stop on a wet road as on a dry road, because tyres have less grip on the surface.
Highways England is advising that in wet weather you should:
- Slow down if the rain and spray from vehicles is making it difficult to see and be seen.
- Keep well back from the vehicle in front as this will increase your ability to see and plan ahead.
- Ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually if the steering becomes unresponsive, as it probably means that water is preventing the tyres from gripping the road.
In total, 197 people lost their lives on roads during rainfall in Great Britain last year and 2,721 suffered a serious injury, compared to 14 deaths and 153 serious injuries during fog, and two deaths and 95 serious injuries during snow.
In the North East, there were seven deaths and 82 serious injuries in the rain, compared to no deaths and five serious injuries in snow, and one death and 10 serious injuries in fog.
Highways England is aiming to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on England’s motorways and major A roads by 40% by 2020 through road improvements, safety campaigns and other initiatives.