PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Basing a car-buying decision around a weather-related variable such as rain may not be the wisest decision, but as spring stretches toward summer it'll seem far more sound with each passing squall.
According to the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, wet roads account for roughly 1.13 million crashes each year, 75% of all weather-related crashes and 18% of vehicle crashes overall. That number shrinks only somewhat to 707,000 crashes, or 47% of weather-related crashes and 11% of all crashes, when you narrow wet-pavement incidents down to just rain.
Still, those crashes in rainy conditions injure more than 330,000 people each year and kill 3,300. That's roughly 50% of all weather-related injuries and deaths. To put that into perspective, that makes rain more dangerous to U.S. drivers than snow, ice and fog combined.
Even if you make it through the worst rainstorms unscathed, they're more than enough to affect your commute severely. Light rain reduces traffic flow 2% to 13% percent in light rain, while heavier rain slows things down 6% to 17%. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, where rain is a much an absolute truth as the sun rising and setting, or in Florida or along the Gulf Coast where even storms just passing through can wreak havoc, everybody else's spring showers are just your standard nightmare.Despite what sunny, coastal car commercials may lead you to believe, automakers are well aware of wet weather woes and have made tweaks such as rain-sensing wipers and bigger features such as all-wheel drive part of their arsenal. We spoke with Jack Nerad, executive editorial director at Kelley Blue Book and got his take on which automobiles are best built to survive multiple outings on slick roads. With his help and a bit of digging on our own, we came up with five vehicles that can help you drive straight through those spring downpours:
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