Almost every driver will face a storm while on the road. Severe weather may be only an inconvenience or may put drivers and their vehicles at risk. So, what should you do if caught in a storm? Here are some tips on how to drive in bad weather.
Weather Is a Serious Safety Concern for Drivers
There are over 5.8 million vehicle crashes each year, and more than one in five (21%) are weather-related. Bad weather creates all sorts of dangers. Winds blow down power lines, roads become slick, or you can't see other drivers. Further, heavy rains or snow can cause your vehicle to stall or get stuck.
Thunderstorms are the most common type of severe storm you may encounter. About 100,000 thunderstorms happen in the U.S. each year, and about 10% of them are severe, reports the National Oceanic and Aviation Administration. Thunderstorms bring several safety risks along with them, including lightning, flooding, hail, and tornadoes.
Winter storms can bring snow, sleet, and freezing rain, which make roads slippery. Severe snowstorms, called blizzards, can create blinding snow and strong winds.
Safety Tips for Any Storms
There are some essential things to do when driving in inclement weather.
Slow down: You should decrease your speed based on the weather conditions. It's advised for you to cut your speed by a third in poor weather. For example, if the speed limit is 30 mph, then slow down to 20 mph.
Drive further behind cars: That way, if they skid or come to a sudden stop, you have time to respond.
Turn on your headlights: When there is fog, rain, or snow, put your headlights on. While it's not a law in every state, this practice makes it easier for you to see other cars and trucks. And it makes it easier for them to see you. Resist the urge to turn on your high beams, which create glare and actually make it harder to see.
Driving in a Storm with High Winds
It is not advisable to drive during a period of a high wind warning, which is issued when winds are at or above 40 mph for an hour or wind gusts are above 58 mph. However, if you are driving in high winds, the National Weather Service advises that you drive at a safe distance from other vehicles.
In addition, avoid driving close to tall vehicles, which can be pushed or even toppled by a wind gust. It's fine to pull over until the storm passes, but park away from trees or other tall objects that can fall.
Driving in Storms with Heavy Rain and Flooding
Rain and wet roads are a serious hazard to your safety and can damage your car. One risk is hydroplaning, where your car slides on a road and you may lose control.
The National Weather Service offers practical advice if you're driving in rain and in high-risk flood areas. The rule of thumb is to never drive in standing water, such as a deep puddle. It can only take six inches of water to cause you to stop your car.
Flash floods are particularly dangerous because they are caused by more than rain. Rather, flash floods are caused when a river overflows, a dam breaks, or another similar event. If there is a flash flooding warning issued, move quickly to higher ground. The National Weather Service advises that you abandon your car if it stalls and go to higher ground.
Driver's Education Can Teach You How to Cope with Severe Weather
There are many things to consider when driving in severe weather, and driver's ed can help you learn them all. Prepare yourself for your driver's test or learn how to drive better with Aceable's online driver's ed course.