20 Nov How to Drive Safely in Rainy, Foggy, or Snowy Conditions
With fall crispness soon to segue into winter rainy, foggy, and snowy driving conditions are more the rule than the exception. Stay safe on the road by following a few of these tips while you’re driving.
Every year, almost 6 million vehicle crashes occur in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Weather-related accidents account for more than 1.25 million of those accidents.
Before the weather takes a turn for its rainy and snowy worst, you should reacquaint yourself with best practices while driving in every type of inclement winter weather.
Driving Through Rain
Rain is one of the most common weather conditions drivers face, but even light rain can change road conditions and cause issues on the road. The following pointers can help you more effectively drive in rainy conditions:
- Be careful when it first starts to rain: Water mixing with road dirt and oil creates a slippery film that creates conditions similar to ice, making driving more dangerous at higher speeds.
- Stay calm if your vehicle hydroplanes: Slowly releasing the accelerator can help stop your vehicle from hydroplaning. Don’t hit brakes or steer in the opposite direction, which can cause loss of control, skidding, and a crash.
- Watch out for wet leaves: Slow down if you encounter wet leaves on the road. They can act like ice and cause your vehicle to skid.
- Avoid puddles: Puddles can make your brakes wet and cause them to malfunction. To dry your brakes, apply them lightly until they operate normally.
- Treat your windshield: Applying a glass treatment solution to your windshield can improve the performance of your wipers.
- Double check your tire treads: Treads ensure that your tires stay in contact with the road in wet conditions by channeling water underneath. To test the proper depth of your tire tread, place a quarter in one of the grooves. If part of George Washington’s head remains covered, then the tread is deep enough.
Driving Through Fog
Drivers making their way through fog should use their low beams. Lights from regular and high beams can reflect off fog and hamper visibility. Low beams can improve visibility for yourself and other drivers.
Drivers should also avoid sudden stops. Coming to a slower stop means other drivers, especially those in large trucks, will have more time to see and react to your vehicle.
If fog gets too severe to see anything, pull over as far from the road as safely possible and use emergency flashers to alert drivers until the fog begins to clear.
Driving Through Snow
Snowy conditions require more preparation to drive through than other forms of inclement weather. Driving in snowy conditions means knowing what to check on your vehicle, and what to have on hand in case of emergencies.
Here are a few tips to be prepared for winter weather:
- Check valve, belts, hoses, and filters: Cold weather can cause parts to develop cracks and leaks. Check their condition to ensure your vehicle can run safely.
- Check the coolant system: Make sure your vehicle has enough coolant, check for potential leaks, and make sure your coolant system has been flushed remove dirt and rust buildup.
- Prepare your vehicle for the snow: Add a snow shovel, an ice scraper, jumper cables, flares, a flashlight, extra clothes, and blankets to your winter emergency kit.
- Clear all snow from your vehicle before driving: Ensure that your vehicle is free from snow. Driving with snow on your vehicle can be a hazard to other drivers. Also make sure that your view and vehicle’s headlights and taillights are clear from snow and ice — this will allow you to see and be seen.
- Watch out for black ice: Ice that forms on a road may be transparent or blend in with the asphalt. In some cases, this type of ice can form abruptly and catch a driver unaware while transitioning from dry to icy pavement. If there has been any precipitation and it is below freezing, assume that the roads will be icy, even if they don’t appear to be.
- Keep the fuel tank filled: Keeping at least two-thirds of a gas tank full at all times can prevent your car’s fuel line from freezing, which stops your vehicle from running. Adding isopropyl alcohol can also help prevent freezing. The additional weight of the fuel in the fuel tank will help keep the rear of the vehicle more stable and help avoid so-called “fishtailing” while driving.
With winter fast approaching, optimal driving conditions will be few and far between. By following these tips, drivers can better navigate in inclement weather and get to their destinations safe and sound.