Auto Safety Library: Severe Weather Driving Tips

According to statisticians and researchers, approximately 25 percent of vehicle accidents take place during bad weather conditions such as rain, snow, and ice. The best ways to avoid accidents in severe weather conditions is to avoid driving at all costs, until the weather clears. If it is absolutely necessary to travel in inclement weather, it’s important for drivers to remember to slow their speed and increase the distance from their car to the car in front of them as a means to decrease the likelihood of an accident. Anyone driving in bad weather should be wary of weather changes and if they must drive, they should know how to keep safe. Continue reading to learn more about the various weather driving hazards and precautions you can take to be a safer driver.

Rain

  • All light bulbs on the vehicle should be working properly.
  • Brittle or old wiper blades should be replaced.
  • While driving, stay in the middle lanes because the rain water tends to accumulate in the outside lanes, causing large puddles.
  • When other vehicles are in front of you, be sure to follow at enough of a distance to give yourself time to stop.
  • You should also drive in the same tracks as the vehicle in front of you.
  • Always pay attention to your surroundings such as brake lights.
  • Headlights should remain on
  • Never drive through any water that is deep or moving.

Fog

  • When driving in foggy conditions stay at a slower speed and keep the headlights on.
  • Consider the length at which they can see and the length of time it would take to stop.
  • Be sure the high beams are off and turn the fog lights on instead.
  • The lights on the vehicle are the only way other drivers may be able to see your vehicle so keep them on.
  • Be sure to use windshield wipers and defrosters as to keep windshields clear.

Snow

  • When driving in snow, the first rule of thumb is to slow down.
  • You will need to drive slowly and keep distant from vehicles traveling in front of you.
  • You should also slow down sooner for turns, stops, check brake traction often, and stay aware of the weather conditions on the outside of the vehicle.
  • Falling temperatures mean the road surfaces can freeze which cause black ice.
  • If the vehicle begins sliding once the brakes have been applied, the driver should stop using the brake immediately and apply them again but slowly.
  • When sliding, driver should steer into the skid. This means that if the vehicle is sliding to the left then the steering wheel should be turned to the left until control is regained. After control is regained, gently steer the car back on the road.
  • Driving safe in these conditions requires a great deal of practice. If possible, do not drive if it is not absolutely necessary.

Ice/Sleet

  • If you must drive in ice/sleet, wait until sanding trucks and snow plows have done their work before traveling.
  • Make sure any ice and snow is cleared from the vehicle and make sure the defrosters are working for both the front and back windshields.
  • The wiper blades should also be kept in good condition as snow on the windshield can make seeing difficult.
  • As you drive in winter weather keep the headlights on, reduce speed, and allow for plenty of stopping room.
  • Pay close attention to overpasses and bridges as these areas tend to freeze quicker than roads

Floods

  • If you can avoid driving in floods, you should. Vehicles have the potential to stall trapping all the occupants in dangerous flood waters. If when a flood takes place and you are driving, you should seek shelter that is the closest to you and you should seek it as soon as possible.
  • Try to remain calm and do not attempt to drive through any flood water as the depth can be deceptive.
  • Turn the vehicle around and find a different way to get to your destination. If the car does somehow get surrounded with water, get out immediately. There have many that have lost their lives trying to save their vehicles. Get to higher ground.

Thunderstorms

  • There are many dangers associated with thunderstorms such as heavy rain, strong winds, hail, flooding, and tornadoes. If you are driving you should slow down and pull off on the side of the road. Do not touch anything that is metal inside the car and do not drive through water.

Hurricanes

  • Hurricanes can cause floods, landslides, and tornadoes so if driving in this type of weather extra precautions should be taken. Preparation is a great way to ensure safe evacuations and safe returns.
  • In most cases, people are aware when a hurricane is close to the area so they can evacuate the area early. Grab any important documents, fill the vehicle with plenty of gasoline, and identify the safe route you will be taking.
  • Make sure you take batteries, flashlights, first-aid kits, water, and food.
  • Pay attention to any downed electrical wires and do not drive over them.
  • If possible avoid any streets which are flooded.

Tornadoes

  • Never drive where a tornado is present, the first and best option is to immediately locate a building which is secure and offers shelter.
  • The goal is to avoid the storm’s path. As soon as there are tornado watches or warning broadcast, the process of finding a safe location should be started.
  • It is important to know which direction the bad weather is going and move away as shelter is sought. Drive in the direction away from the storm’s direction, in right angles, if it will get you away.
  • Pay attention to dark or green colored skies, clouds that seem to be swirling, and hail as this could mean there is a tornado developing.
  • If driving at night, observe any light flashes that are a bluish-white color and are hitting the ground.

Look to the following resources for more information: