Safety professionals are often asked questions about driving in severe weather. Here is a look at why certain conditions make for dangerous driving and some tips to help you stay safer. Remember, severe weather demands your undivided attention, so turn down the radio and minimize other distractions. Sometimes, the best driving decision you can make is to stay off the road until the weather clears.
Driving in heavy winds
An invisible threat, wind deserves special consideration from drivers. Highway overpasses, tunnels and “road cuts” through mountainous areas can act as funnels for the wind, which can catch drivers by surprise.
- Anticipate gusts. Take special care when driving through areas where wind is likely to get funneled.
- Notice larger vehicles. Be aware of the position of tractor-trailers and other large vehicles around you. They are more susceptible to high winds.
- Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle.
Driving in heavy rain
In addition to poor visibility that accompanies heavy rain, be prepared for hydroplaning. This occurs when there is so much rain that tires travel on the water rather than the surface of the road, making braking and turning more difficult to control.
- Take your time. The most dangerous time to drive in the rain is in the first 20 minutes of the storm, as oils on roadways make for slick conditions. Waiting a few minutes, rather than rushing to your destination, can be the safer route when it is raining.
- Turn your lights on. Turn your headlights on to help other vehicles see you. Many states require the use of headlights during rain, even in broad daylight.
- Give other vehicles more space. Add 1-2 extra seconds of following time in the rain, which gives you and the cars behind you more time to react to traffic.
For more tips on driving in severe weather like tornadoes and hail, click here.