Unless you live in Hawaii and you’ve permanently given up wheels for waves, brah, the only real way to avoid driving in hazardous conditions is to avoid driving altogether. Since that probably isn’t what you’re trying to do, let’s talk about what you should do when you find yourself in unsafe road conditions. These tips for driving in hazardous weather conditions can help you be a safe, confident driver no matter what the weather is doing. We’ve put together some resources to help you in any climate or condition. Driving in the snow? Follow our tips. The rain? Stay safe and avoid hydroplaning. Driving through the desert? We’ve got you covered. Driving in the dessert? Sounds delicious.
Driving in Hazardous Condition Driving Safety Videos
- Tips for Driving in Rain and Wet Weather
- Tips for Driving in Snow and Winter Weather
- Tips for Driving in Hot Weather
- What to Do if You Start Hydroplaning
- The Dangers of Driving In Floodwater
Real talk: sometimes unfortunate things happen. You might get stranded in a remote location in the middle of a blizzard. Your car might suddenly overheat and break down in the desert. Before you even begin driving through hazardous conditions, let’s talk about what you want to pack in your car. You want to make sure you’re ready for any emergency that can come your way — it could literally save your life one day. Oh, and don’t forget to check the weather channel before you head out for the day. We know you’re on your phone for 20 minutes before you get up in the morning anyways.
Things you should pack in your car for emergencies:
- For snow:
- Ice scraper: Have you ever tried to get ice off of your car without one of these things? We don’t recommend trying.
- Warm blanket (space blanket recommended): If your car breaks down, guess what? Your heat isn’t going to work. A space blanket could be your saving grace on a cold winter highway.
- Kitty litter or a shovel: “Why the heck would I need my cat’s bathroom floor to deal with snow and ice?!” you might be asking yourself. If you ever get stuck in the snow or ice, kitty litter can create enough traction for your tires to get you out of a tricky situation. A shovel is also helpful for digging out snow-lodged tires.
- Hat and gloves: This one is pretty standard. You want to be able to keep warm if you ever end up having to deal with your car in any way when it’s cold out.
- For heat:
- Bottles of water: If you’re stuck on the side of the highway on a day hotter than Queen Bey herself, you’re going to want to hydrate. Trust us.
- Coolant: This liquid keeps your car from overheating. If you’re ever low on coolant and your car is starting to overheat, you’re going to want this available asap.
- Washcloths: These are helpful to have on hand at all times for random emergencies and messes. Not to mention, they could come in handy cleaning up any sweat puddles you might create if your AC or engine goes out in the summer. Yuk.
- For rain:
- Extra clothes: You’re definitely going to want a change of clothes if you get stuck in the rain. Having some packed and loaded will have you sending past-you a thank you fruit basket if you ever have to utilize them.
- Extra windshield wipers: If you lose a wiper in the middle of a rainy drive, you don’t want to get stuck waiting for the weather to clear up in order to make it home. Having a spare set available means you can pull over and swap them out if needed.
- Poncho or other waterproof covering: You’re driving to pick up bae for date night and BAM! It starts pouring. What do you do? Grab your handy poncho and look oh so fly when you come knocking at her door.
- For always:
- Flares, maps, matches, first-aid kit (including bandages, medication, ointment, etc), flashlight, portable food items (such as Clif bars), car phone charger, whatever else you think could be important. This is what trunks are for!
Having these items on hand could help you get safely out of potentially life-threatening situations and keep you prepared for dangerous drives. When packing your car, think about what kinds of things could happen when driving in hazardous weather conditions (breakdown, car accident, etc.) so you can always be prepared.
Drive to Conditions
When you’re driving in severe weather conditions, it’s very important to adjust to your surroundings. The road conditions can make a huge difference on how you’ll want to handle driving your car. Is it raining or snowing so hard that you have almost zero visibility? Is there freezing rain or the possibility of black ice on the ground? You should slow way, way down under the speed limit and make sure you’ve got plenty of space between yourself other drivers (at least two car lengths on an icy road) so you don’t lose control. If it gets too hard to see, pull as far off the road as you can, turn your hazard lights on, and wait for it to clear up until you feel comfortable continuing on your way. Are you driving up a giant mountain in 100+ temps while carrying six people and two dogs? You’ll probably want to turn your A/C off to save your car from overheating. Is a sun glare making it hard for you to see? Make sure you keep a pair of shades in your car for these instances. Inclement weather can be scary, but you’re way better off if you’re in the know on how to be prepared for these situations.
Whenever you get in situations that are less than ideal, the best thing you can do is use your common sense. If you feel unsafe driving 65mph in heavy rain with a wet road, it’s probably because you are unsafe. Slow down so you avoid hydroplaning and losing control of your vehicle. You got this, fam.
Check out our videos on driving in hazardous conditions to learn more about specific bad weather situations: wet, hot, and snowy. We’ve got you covered no matter the weather hazard.