Although it’s wise to avoid getting into your car or truck altogether in truly inclement weather, certain precautions can help prevent accidents and injuries when you must drive during heavy rain or snow, storms and other dangerous conditions. From preparing before you leave to dealing with hair-raising situations once you’re on the road, follow these tips to stay safe while driving in bad weather.
Before You Leave
Before leaving, listen to the radio for up-to-the-minute news on weather conditions, road closures and traffic information. Avoid routes in the path of flash floods, tornadoes and other weather hazards. Flash floods and certain other dangerous weather issues can hit at a moment’s notice, so staying up-to-date is key.
Allow plenty of time for your trip to provide leeway for the lower speeds demanded by hazardous weather conditions. Knowing you have plenty of time will also help you remain relaxed and focused.
Make sure your car or truck is prepared. Make sure your vehicle has functioning lights, plenty of gas, adequate air in its tires, clean windshield wipers and plenty of wiper fluid. Additionally, the following safety equipment can prevent injury or worse if an accident or breakdown occurs:
• cell phone (charged)
• first aid kit
• hazard triangle or road flares
• spare tire
• ice scraper
• emergency roadside service assistance information
While On the Road
When driving in fog, avoid using your high-beam lights. Use the low-beam headlights instead, and run the defroster and windshield wipers for maximum visibility. During foggy, wet or icy conditions, drive slowly to avoid sudden stops. Shift into neutral to ease into braking, and always use your turn signal before changing lanes or turning.
Make slow, wide turns to avoid skidding or spinning out of control. Reduce speed overall to prevent hydroplaning, sliding and missing visual safety cues like icy patches and nearby car lights during times when visibility is reduced. Watch your surroundings for potential problem areas like nearby streams during times when flash flooding is common, or a film of slippery dirt on the road during foggy spells.
Never risk driving on a road covered in water. Whatever the weather, getting to your destination on time isn’t worth the risk of driving through any potentially dangerous, or even life-threatening, situation.
If the weather or road conditions get too dangerous, please don’t hesitate to pull over to a safe place to avoid risk to yourself and others on the road.