One of the most dangerous things we all do almost every day, if not every day, is driving. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for people in the first half of their life (from newborn up to age 44). Inclement weather makes driving conditions even more dangerous than they normally are, so here is everything you need to know about driving in inclement weather to help protect yourself and your family.
- Check weather and traffic reports – checking the weather report for any area you will be driving through before you leave your home will inform you of any inclement weather that may come across your path. Checking traffic reports before leaving home will let you know if there are any paths you need to try to avoid and what current traffic conditions are along your route.
- Use your headlights (but not your hazard lights) during any situation with lowered visibility – if there is any sign of rain or fog along your route while driving you should immediately turn on your headlights to help your viewing visibility and increase your visibility to other drivers on the road. It is important to make sure that you use only your headlights though, and not your flashing hazard lights, as using hazard lights while driving is against the law. You should only use your flashing hazard lights when your vehicle is stopped.
- Keep your windshield wipers maintained – you obviously will need to use your windshield wipers if you are driving in rainy conditions. It is best to replace your windshield wipers every six to twelve months for optimal performance.
- Slow down and be patient – you should never speed but driving in inclement weather makes it even more important that you slow down while driving. When the roads are wet your vehicle may have a loss of traction which can lead to sliding or hydroplaning and if you are driving too fast this could lead to you losing control of your vehicle. It is best to slow down to about 10 miles per hour below the speed limit.
- Go around standing water – you should never try to cross directly through a flooded roadway. If you see standing water, then there is no way for you to be able to tell for sure how deep the water is. You don’t want to try to drive through and then wind up getting flooded and stuck. It is best to drive around any standing water or flooded areas, if possible.
- Keep your windows clear – this should be obvious, but you will need your windows and mirrors to be as clear as possible, so your visibility is not decreased. Using your cars defroster or air conditioner should help keep your windows clear.
- Watch out for debris – you will want to make sure you are paying close attention to the road while driving in inclement weather. You will need to watch out for debris that has landed in your path of driving and any flying debris that may be a hazard for hitting your vehicle.
- If you feel uncomfortable, pull over – if at any time during your drive you become uncomfortable or unsure of driving conditions and your ability to continue to control the vehicle, you should pull over immediately. It is better to pull over and wait out the bad weather than it is to risk driving in conditions you are not comfortable with.
Safety Tips You Should Follow At All Times
No matter how good or bad the weather is, there are some things that should be done every time you are in a vehicle to make sure you are protecting yourself and your passengers.
- Always buckle up! Every trip, every time, no matter how short the distance you are going.
- Do NOT use cellphones or electronics. There is no text or phone call that is so important that it cannot wait for you to get to a safe point where you have stopped driving before you respond. Other forms of electronics such as GPS devices are also just as much of a distraction. Always make sure to enter your destination into your GPS device before you begin driving.
- Keep an emergency kit. You should always have an emergency kit packed and ready for use in the trunk or cargo area of your car. Your emergency kit should include road flares, a blanket, a flashlight, jumper cables, a tow rope, an air compressor, and duct tape. It’s also not a bad idea to include some dry snack food and water.
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