Does summer mean safer driving conditions? Not so fast!

You might be relieved to be done with winter driving conditions for a few months. Driving on icy roads in a blizzard just feels really dangerous.

Most Missourians are probably more at ease driving in a summer rain with your tires hissing on the clean pavement and maybe rolling down the window to enjoy the smell of fresh morning fog.

Well, not so fast. You might want to slow down and stay alert.

The truth about warm-weather wrecks

Winter weather definitely contributes to its share of car accidents, from fender benders to fatal crashes. But the cold, hard facts are that more accidents happen in the hot rain.

Data from the State Patrol shows that more crashes and more fatalities happen in the warmer months.

According to the State Patrol’s data for the most recent available year (2017), over 9 percent of all the reported crashes, or nearly 15,000 crashes, happened during warm weather conditions like rain, fog or mist.

That’s more than three times as many crashes as in cold weather conditions such as snow, freezing temperatures or sleet. They were present for less than 3 percent of crashes, or about 4500 accidents.

Let’s look at it another way. The sad statistics show that the 2017 holiday seasons of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (ringing in 2018) saw a total of 29 traffic deaths statewide.

But in the same year, 38 traffic deaths were reported during the Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day holidays.

How could summer roads seem more dangerous?

Does liquid water cause more wipeouts than ice water?

Just like a driver on the highway, someone reading statistics should always remain careful, alert and defensive. Data can be a treacherous road.

Unlike colder states like Minnesota or Maine, Missouri gets a lot more rain than snow, so you’d expect more of almost everything to happen in the rain, including car accidents.

There are probably also other reasons for fewer snowy accidents. Missourians may just stay off the road more often when it snows than when it rains.

Also, some Missourians may be very careful when driving in the snow but possibly over-confident in the rain. Snow probably scares off risky behavior better than rain.

In any case, let these surprising statistics be a good reminder. No matter the reason and whatever the season, the road is rarely the best place to just relax, tune out and enjoy the weather.