When driving in heavy rain or wind, be aware of your surroundings and take steps to help you arrive safely at your destination.
Driving in conditions involving strong or heavy wind and rain can significantly increase the risk of an accident for you, your family, and other drivers. Remember that severe weather demands your undivided attention, so be sure to reduce any possible distractions, including turning the radio down and avoiding use of your phone, to keep your attention fully on the road. Keep in mind that sometimes the best driving decision you can make is to stay off the road completely until the weather clears.
Driving in Heavy Rain
In addition to the potentially poor visibility that accompanies most heavy rain, drivers should be vigilant and aware of the potential of hydroplaning. Hydroplaning occurs when a vehicle is traveling too fast in heavy rain conditions, causing the vehicle’s tires to travel on a thin layer of water rather than grip the surface of the road. This has the potential to make steering and braking difficult and could even lead to losing control of your vehicle. Follow these tips to help you stay safe while driving in heavy rain.
1. Take your time. Slowing down is the only way to keep your vehicle from hydroplaning. Avoid driving through deeper puddles of water on the road and NEVER drive through moving water. A car can be swept away in as little as 3 inches of water, so it is not worth the risk. Also remember that one of the most dangerous times to drive is when begins to rain, as oils on the roadway make for slick conditions. Waiting a few minutes, rather than rushing to your destination, can be a safer plan when it is raining.
2. 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.
3. Give other vehicles more space. The standard rule of thumb is 4 seconds of following distance. Add an extra 1-2 seconds of following time in the rain, which gives you, and cars behind you, more time to react to traffic.
Driving in Strong Winds
Strong, windy conditions deserves special consideration from drivers. Strong wind can occur just about anywhere, but is be more common in wide open spaces. Areas for concern also include highway overpasses, tunnels, and road cuts through mountainous areas that can act a funnel for wind. The following tips can help keep you on the road and safe during heavy winds.
1. Anticipate gusts. Take special care when driving through areas prone to strong winds or when weather reports predict severe weather. These gusts can push your vehicle, limiting your control and making it difficult to stay in your lane.
2. Notice larger vehicles. Be aware of large vehicles on the road, such as tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles, which are more susceptible to high winds and drivers may have difficulties staying in their lanes. Increase your following time and pass effectively.
3. Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.
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