Driving on American roads at any time means that you are exposed to some degree of risk of an accident. However, the risk can be much higher if you get caught up in bad weather.
Some of the most hazardous weather conditions for driving are heavy rainfall, snow, and heavy winds. Staying safe under these conditions requires understanding a few tricks that can keep you safe when driving in hazardous weather conditions.
Common Hazardous Driving Conditions and What to Do Under Such Conditions
If you live in a part of the country that experiences harsh winters, you will have to contend with driving on icy roads. Simply put, it can be a real challenge because icy roads can get pretty slippery.
Here are tips for driving safely under these conditions.
Maintain a safe speed and following distance.
Icy conditions are among the leading causes of rear-end traffic accidents because they tend to be slippery. That’s why you must drive slower than the posted limit and keep a safe following distance to allow you time to stop without causing an accident.
Test your brakes.
If you don’t have experience driving in icy conditions, it is vital to test how your vehicle performs under such conditions, especially the brakes. You can do so by driving in an empty park to feel how much pressure you need to apply to the brake pedals.
Engage corners at even slower speeds.
Speeding is out of the question when driving on icy roads. But even then, you will need to go extra slow when engaging a corner in icy conditions to avoid the risk of your car skidding off the road.
If you need to accelerate, ensure that you do it gradually. Accelerating fast can result in your tires spinning in place, which can be frustrating. Also, accelerating should be done gradually and consciously without going beyond safe limits.
Beware of black ice.
Black ice is a thin transparent ice layer on the road’s surface that may catch you unawares. Keep in mind that black ice is a possibility in low temperatures, so you will want to be on the lookout for surfaces that appear slick.
Heavy Rainfall and Fog
Like ice, heavy rainfall causes the road to be slippery, so controlling a vehicle under such conditions can be challenging. Many safety tips for driving in the rain are similar to driving under ice conditions. However, some are unique to the rain and fog, which include:
- Keep your fog lights on to increase visibility in rainy and foggy conditions
- Choose the middle lanes where there may be less water
- Avoid puddles; they could be deep. Instead, drive in the tracks of the car ahead of you. If there is none, drive around the puddle.
Yes, wind can be a hazard too. The danger increases with the size of the vehicle you are driving and the speed of the wind. When driving in windy conditions, you must:
- Beware of high profile vehicles that have a high chance of toppling over
- Move at a lower than posted speed; the faster a vehicle is, the more unstable it is, meaning it will be more vulnerable to toppling in windy conditions.
- Keep both hands on the wheel to get better control of the vehicle.
If you don’t have a good reason for being on the road under these conditions, it would be best not to avoid driving.
But if you are caught unawares, the tips highlighted above can come in handy. Alternatively, you can choose to pull over in a safe area and only get back on the road when the conditions improve.