Distracted driving is a huge problem for drivers in the United States, and many of the factors that have a tendency to distract a person while driving can be controlled by the driver or others in the car. Unfortunately, the weather is not one of them. Adverse weather conditions can affect the ability of any driver to safely operate a vehicle. At times, it is not possible for a driver to simply stay home, or avoid getting behind the wheel of a car. If you are in a situation where the weather makes for bad driving conditions, but have no choice but to drive to where you need to be, there are several tips that can help you to ensure that you get there safely, and that you don’t harm anyone else during your commute.
NINE BAD WEATHER DRIVING TIPS
Whether you are traveling down a freeway or around the corner to the grocery store, weather conditions can change in a second. In order to drive safely when bad weather hits, incorporate each of the following steps into your regular driving routine.
Preparation is important no matter what type of weather you’re driving in. Before you get behind the wheel of your car, and especially for longer trips, make sure your car is equipped with all the materials you would need in the case of an emergency. Some examples of these items are:
- Jumper cables
- Ice and snow scrapers for windows and windshield
- Extra food and water
- Extra clothing
- Spare tire
- Blankets for warmth
If you have any medications that must be taken regularly, you may also want to include a small dose of each type in case of an emergency.
Before you get into your car, perform a quick safety inspection to determine if your car is in good shape. Check your tires, and add air to any tire that seems low. Make sure all your mirrors are intact and that there is nothing obviously wrong with the car. Although this is particularly important in bad weather, it is a good habit to develop for any type of driving.
3. SLOW DOWN
Perhaps the best tip that can be given for anyone who is driving in bad weather is to simply slow down. Driving fast during adverse weather conditions can almost guarantee that you end up in an accident. Don’t wait until the weather is unbearable to hit the brakes. As soon as you notice the snow or rain start to fall, take your foot off the gas, and focus a little more on the road. Many accidents and deaths could be avoided if drivers slowed down once the weather turned.
4. INCREASE STOPPING DISTANCE
When the roads are icy or wet, your car will need more room to be able to stop or slow down. Any time you come to a stop, increase your stopping distance to ensure that you can stop at the right time. If you have more time to stop, and you notice your car is sliding, you will also have more opportunity to make a choice on how to handle the situation, or warn those in front of you.
5. HANG ON
It’s easy to let go of the steering wheel and talk on the phone, eat a hamburger, or fiddle with the radio once you are comfortable behind the wheel. Once the weather gets scary, it’s important to keep both hands on the wheel at all times, and keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. This ensures that you have control over the vehicle.
6. TAP PEDALS LIGHTLY
Whether you are stopping or accelerating, any time your feet touch the pedals when the weather is bad, it should be done lightly and carefully. Avoid speeding up or stopping too quickly, as your car may react differently than normal when the weather conditions are intense.
7. OBEY THE LAW
It’s always important to keep the laws of the road, but it becomes vital when you are driving in bad weather. Stop at all stop signs, drive under the speed limit, and obey every single law you learned in driver education class. This allows other drivers to focus on their driving, and not what you are doing.
8. PAY ATTENTION
Defensive driving is an essential skill to learn and will keep you out of trouble for many years. In bad weather conditions, paying attention to other drivers and factors outside the car becomes absolutely essential. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by anything but the road in front of you.
9. LEAVE THE ROAD
If the conditions are too much for you to handle, there is always the option to simply leave the road and park until the weather lightens up. If you have loaded your car with all the necessary items, the wait can become pleasurable.
SMART DECISIONS CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE
While the snow and rain can be charming from the comfort of your couch, it quickly turns deadly when you are behind the wheel of a car and unprepared with the right tools to handle the situation. Driving carefully can save your life, and the lives of those around you. In conditions of extreme weather, trips and appointments should be cancelled, in order to protect the lives of those on the road.