Driving in Adverse Conditions

Springtime in Texas is a catalyst for severe weather including thunderstorms, hail and tornados. Inclement weather can dramatically decrease visibility and increase the risk of accidents. Precautions and proper driving techniques can help prevent accidents.

Prepare for Adverse Weather

  • Check the vehicle’s wiper blades. Periodically check for deterioration and wear. Worn blades can smear water and dirt, which can significantly decrease visibility.
  • Check lights. Make sure that vehicle lights are in proper working order and are always in use during poor weather conditions. If windshield wipers are in use, headlights should be too.
  • Check tires. Regularly check that tires are inflated to manufacturers’ recommended levels and have sufficient tread depth. Assure they are appropriate for road conditions.
  • Follow your vehicle’s preventative maintenance program. Make sure that your vehicle is in good condition and not at risk of breakdown.
  • Plan accordingly. Keep an eye on local weather forecasts and try to avoid traveling through major storms.
  • Keep emergency supplies in your vehicle. The emergency kit should include flares or emergency signals, first aid supplies, jumper cables, non-perishable food and water, and cold-weather gear (if traveling in winter weather).
  • Defog your windows. Make sure that all windows are clear before starting your trip. Be aware that rain can quickly cause windows to fog up.
  • Exercise extreme caution. Dirt on roadways can become extremely slippery when wet, especially right after a long dry period.
  • Allow for additional time. Do not rush to your destination.

Safety Tips for Driving in Rain

  • Avoid driving through pools of standing or running water. There may be hazards beneath the water’s surface; additionally, water can cause serious damage if it reaches the engine.
  • Do not use cruise control. If you begin to hydroplane, cruise control causes a further loss of control.
  • Increase your following distance. Increase the space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you in slick or low-visibility conditions.
  • Brake early. Brake earlier as a safety measure and to notify other drivers that you are slowing or stopping.
  • Avoid stopping on the shoulder. If it is necessary, be sure to use your turn signals or emergency signals and keep sufficient clearance between your vehicle and traffic.
  • Watch for pedestrians. The sound of rain can make it difficult for pedestrians to hear oncoming traffic.

Safety Tips for Driving in Fog

  • Avoid using your high beams. When driving in fog, do not use your high beams, as they can further decrease visibility.
  • Do not overdrive your headlights. Maintain low enough speeds that your stopping distance is not greater than the range of your lights.

Header Photo by Clay LeConey on Unsplash

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