Watch Out For Wet Weather: Every Rainy Day Sees 16 Serious Injuries On UK Roads

·         Analysis of over 27,000 vehicles reveals 48 per cent of drivers exceed the recommended speed when driving in the rain

·         Over the last two years alone, 4,971 accidents in the rain have resulted in a serious injury or death – the equivalent of 16 injuries for every rainy day in the UK

·         23.3 million drivers don’t slow their speed in wet conditions, when stopping distances are double those of dry weather  

New research from Churchill Car Insurance reveals drivers are ignoring hazardous weather conditions and refusing to meaningfully reduce their speed when driving in the rain.  Analysis1 of more than 27,000 vehicles travelling over a 48-hour period found when it is raining drivers reduce their average speed by just 0.7 per cent. In wet conditions, with surface water on the road after rainfall, on average, drivers reduce their speed by just 0.8 per cent.  With motorists advised to cut their speed by as much as a third in wet weather conditions, the research shows that drivers are failing to reduce their speed despite stopping distances being at least double those required for stopping on dry roads2.

Of even greater concern, were the 48 per cent of drivers who were filmed exceeding the recommended speed limit when driving in wet or rainy conditions, with one in 15 (seven per cent) driving at over 80mph.  The study revealed HGV drivers increased their average speed by 1.4 per cent when driving in the rain, which is concerning given their braking distances are much greater than a car’s, even in good weather.

Over the last two years alone, 4,631 car accidents in the rain3 have resulted in serious injury, while some 340 rain-related accidents resulted in a fatality. This is the equivalent of 16 injuries for every rainy day across the UK. One in eight (12 per cent) reported accidents on Britain’s roads occur in poor weather, with rain accounting for nine out of every ten of these accidents.  The chance of being involved in a single car accident, involving another object like a lamppost or tree, also increases in wet weather (34 per cent vs 28 per cent).

Alex Borgnis, head of Car Insurance at Churchill, said:

“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. 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.”

Drivers openly admit that they don’t adjust their speed in wet weather, with 23.3 million (55 per cent)4 reporting that that don’t bother to slow down in light rain.  Some 16.1 million (38 per cent) won’t slow down in windy conditions, while 13.2 million (31 per cent) won’t on wet roads. Interestingly, those who rate themselves as poor drivers are less likely to adapt their speed according to adverse weather conditions, presenting an even greater risk to others on the road.

Table one: Percentage of drivers who do not slow down in hazardous weather conditions by driving ability 

Weather condition All drivers Self-reported 'poor' drivers self reported 'good' drivers
Light rain 55% 59% 55%
Heavy rain 15% 33% 12%
Wet roads 31% 48% 29%
Icy roads 14% 34% 11%
Fog or mist 16% 37% 12%
Wind 38% 57% 36%
Snow 15% 37% 12%

Source: Churchill Car Insurance 2019

When looking at the riskiest time of year for rain-related danger, January is, unsurprisingly, the highest risk month, with 15.3 per cent of all traffic accidents during January taking place in wet conditions, followed by November (14.9 per cent) and February (14.6 per cent). Warmer months don’t negate risk though, as the typical British summer means that even during July and August rain accounts for nine per cent of road accidents.

While rainy conditions cause a high number of accidents, the most dangerous weather conditions are fog and mist, with a serious injury or death occurring in nearly three per cent of all accidents, more than twice the average rate, while accidents in rain result in fatality in 1.3 per cent of incidents, which is in line with the average rate. More than two fifths (42 per cent) of accidents in fog or mist only involve a single vehicle, the highest proportion of any weather condition.


Notes to Editor

1          Research conducted by Intelligent Data Solutions on a stretch of the A404 near Maidenhead, Berkshire, between 24th and 26th April 2019. Vehicle speeds recorded using ANPR cameras spaced 2km apart


3          Analysis of STATS19 road accident data between July 2016 and June 2018

4          Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,001 adults between 31st May and 3rd June 2019

For further information please contact:

Emma Cava 
PR Manager (Motor)
Direct Line Group

Tel: 01651 831 715
Email: [email protected]

Alannah Sims

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

[email protected]

0207 025 6563


Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK's leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.  

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.  

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