Torrential downpours in spring 2006 were partly to blame for a record year for rain-related accidents, according to motor claims management specialist WNS Assistance.
Its figures also show that rain, hail, sleet or snow were cited as a contributory factor in one-in-six road traffic accidents over the winter months, representing the second highest total on record.
Experts have predicted that global warming will mean an increase in rain and snow and also short, sharp downpours.
WNS Assistance managing director Tim Rankin said: ‘Most people are aware of the effect that global warming is having on household insurance claims through the rising incidence of flooding.
‘But they are still unaware of the impact of the mini-monsoons we are seeing on the incidence of motor accidents.
‘It is a fact, though, that the number of road traffic accidents related to precipitation in one way or another is escalating at such a rate that it should be ringing alarm bells for fleet managers.’
Mr Rankin added: ‘What’s more, the increasingly spring-like winters and summer-like springs are giving drivers a false sense of security on the roads, which has the effect of making them unprepared when they suddenly find themselves in the middle of a torrential downpour.
‘In the circumstances, April showers are no longer a cause for song but for concern.’
According to WNS’ own figures, rain-related accidents in spring 2006 reached 10.4% of the total reported to WNS. This compares to 7.9% in 2005.
Safety experts recommend that drivers keep an eye on their vehicle’s tyre tread depths and wiper blades, as well as ensuring lights are working in case they hit sudden storms.