Driving in Adverse Conditions
Whether you're a novice or a skilled driver, there are going to be times when adverse weather will test your driving abilities. The best defense you have is the ability to react calmly and correctly to the conditions.
Before you head out, watch your local weather forecast. If there is a possibility of rain, snow, strong winds or other potentially dangerous weather on the way, you may want to consider alternative travel times, routes and destinations. But you can't always predict the weather, and there is always the possibility you could get stuck driving in adverse conditions. Whether you're driving in slick conditions or avoiding potholes or hazards in the road, here are a few tips that could help you react in ways that will keep you safe.
When Surfaces are Slick
When roads become slippery, you have to react differently than you would during ideal driving conditions. Whether it’s rainy, snowy or icy, there are some simple steps you can take to help keep yourself safe in slick conditions:
- Prepare your Vehicle. Tires should be properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth to help ensure traction on slick roads. In the winter, check your fluids, particularly for washer fluid and anti-freeze, to make sure they are at adequate levels. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle with jumper cables, flares, a flashlight and some warm clothing and blankets in case you get stuck. Additionally, you should make sure you completely clear your vehicle of snow and ice before you start driving. This increases your safety by making sure you have unobstructed views out all windows and prevents snow and ice from flying off your car and posing hazards to others on the road.
- Reduce your Speed. Most slick condition crashes are caused by excessive speeds for the road and weather conditions. Speed Limits are set for optimal, dry driving conditions. If conditions are adverse, you may need to travel at a speed well below the posted limit.
- Leave Extra Space. In perfect driving conditions, you should leave at least one car length between vehicles for every ten miles per hour that you are driving. In inclement weather, stopping distances are increased, and you need to adjust how close you follow other vehicles.
- Dial 911 in Emergencies. If your vehicle becomes disabled or if you encounter an emergency, you should dial 911 and report your location and the nature of the emergency. Make sure you always know your location, including the name of the road you’re on or the mile marker if you’re on a highway.
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