You may have heard about driving restrictions imposed due to severe weather. Indeed, driving in adverse weather conditions is a practice you should avoid.
According to the FHWA, bad weather impairs your visibility and reduces the stability of the road infrastructure. Hence, it could get dangerous even for the best drivers.
Even with extensive driving experience, many drivers find it hard to maneuver on wet roads with limited visibility. If you use your steering wheel and brake pedal the same way while driving in bad weather, you might lose control, leading to an accident.
However, what if you have an emergency and need to drive in poor weather conditions? That is where safe driving tips in bad weather come in.
How Does Bad Weather Affect Driving?
Did you know that losing control of a vehicle has led to the demise of 5,376 Americans this year? Bad weather can make the roads slippery due to snow, ice, and rain and cloud your windshield, making it difficult to see. If you are in an accident and need to give the police information, you may have trouble finding a license plate number due to poor visibility or debris on the plate.
Listed below are the reasons bad weather can lead to a car crash.
There is a chance of low visibility due to dense fog, heavy rain, and intense snow. When your visibility is impaired, you cannot judge the speed or distance of other drivers.
You might not be able to differentiate between lanes either. Even a thin layer of fog and minimal icy conditions could make you blind on the road.
Water Ponds Blocking Objects on the Road
After it rains profusely, some roads get waterlogged as debris block the drainage system. Nature can create a makeshift stormwater pond covering dangerous things like potholes, sandpits, etc. When rainwater accumulates on the streets, drivers cannot see the road to avoid debris.
Black Ice Causes Slippery Roads
Driving on icy roads is probably the most treacherous. If you do not use the right tires, your vehicle may lose control, and you might not be able to regain traction. Speeding in such situations could make things worse and lead to collisions.
Black ice is a thin glaze of ice that settles on the road’s surface and is visually transparent. Because you can’t see black ice, it is very dangerous and slippery.
Flying Objects Due to High Wind
High-velocity winds could bring dangerously sharp objects hurling in your direction as you drive. Even if you are not going fast, materials like tree branches, metal rods, etc., could damage your windshield and tires.
In very high winds, vehicles may also topple over.
Tip: Always keep an emergency kit handy while driving through adverse weather.
Safety Tips for Driving in Bad Weather
Some weather conditions can determine how your car reacts. If you drive through snowy or rainy conditions without extra precautions, your vehicle may lose control.
If you absolutely need to drive in bad weather, be sure to drive extra carefully. The following tips may help you become a safe driver during adverse weather and road conditions.
Drive Slower than Usual
When: Ice and Snow
The roads are barely visible during heavy snowfall, and overpasses could freeze. Due to this, you must drive your car slowly and avoid drastic speed changes.
Be sure to take corners slowly to help you control the velocity so your vehicle will not slide off and spin. Remember to accelerate gradually and avoid sharp turns.
Utilize Low Beam or Fog Lights
When: Rain, Storm, and Fog
You must avoid using high beams during the rain or fog as it reflects on the rainwater and makes it harder to see. Instead, you can use the low beam headlights or fog lights in your car. Some states in the country have a mandate to switch on headlights when wipers are used.
Turn on your headlights and cruise slowly to make yourself visible in darkened conditions.
Do Not Change Lanes
When: Fog and Rain
Refrain from changing lanes with your car no matter what happens. Ideally, drive in the middle lanes as water accumulates on the outer edges. Staying in the middle and avoiding lane changes while driving would reduce the chance of collisions or hydroplaning.
Not changing lanes too quickly could save you from hazardous elements like potholes and sandpits.
Look for the white line on the right side to maneuver in poor weather conditions.
Leave Room Between Other Traffic
When: Fog and Rain
Maintaining a safe distance between cars while driving is advisable. Keep a distance of two vehicle lengths between your vehicle and the one in front. Doing so would give you plenty of time to slow down if the car in front stops abruptly. Remember, it takes longer to slow down during rain due to the road’s slickness.
It is crucial to keep such a distance when you do not have special tires on your car. Besides, if you slam on your brakes, your vehicle might skid.
Pull Over and Wait it Out
When: Fog, Hailstorms, and Snowstorm
It is better to wait out intense weather conditions in a parking lot when the white line is not visible. Maybe you could play a few games on your cell phone in your car as you wait for the hazardous weather to pass.
Moreover, if you have trouble seeing while driving, you can pull over away from traffic on the right side.
You can turn on the emergency flashers to let other vehicles know and continue driving when the situation improves.
No matter how experienced you are, you must avoid driving vehicles in extreme weather conditions. Irrespective of your destination, the last thing to do is drive your car over snow and ice without using precaution.
Reduced clarity, slippery roads, waterlogging, and other situations could lead to severe accidents. Follow the tips above including pulling over and waiting for the snowstorm to pass, refraining from changing lanes, and leaving room between vehicles.
You could even use windshield wipers and accelerate slowly during the rain. At the same time, low beam headlights could also do the trick and keep you safe.
You must have an emergency kit handy when driving in poor weather. Be sure to avoid puddles and black ice. This way, you will be better prepared for any unforeseen situation while driving through the harsh weather.