No matter the location, every driver has to deal with inclement weather. Whether it be snow, ice, fog, rain, wind, etc., these conditions make it important for you to acquire some additional skills to keep you, and the other drivers you share the road with, safe.
Although the best thing would be to keep off the roads if inclement weather is imminent or occurring, that is not always practical or possible. Here are some tips for when you find yourself behind the wheel during not so ideal weather conditions.
No matter the element, you need to take it slow to give yourself enough time to respond to any road dangers. Did you know it takes your brain 3/4 of a second to perceive a road hazard? Not only that, it takes your brain an additional 3/4 of a second to communicate to your body that it needs to respond to said danger. Seem insignificant? Well, consider this: if you are traveling at 55 mph, your vehicle is covering about 80 feet per second. By the time you perceive the hazard, you traveled 60 feet. By the time you respond to it, you traveled another 60 feet. That’s 120 feet before you even react. And that’s on a dry road.
When making minor adjustments, use light braking pressure. If a road hazard requires you to respond, how you do so depends on whether you have anti-lock brakes or not. When you press down on the brake pedal with ABS, it will prevent the wheels from locking up which will allow you to maintain steering. If your vehicle does not have ABS , you need to refrain from the instinct to slam on the brake as this will cause the wheels to lock up, preventing your ability to steer. When road conditions are icy, snowy, or wet, it is doubly important. Instead, press firmly down to maintain steering. If, against all efforts, you find yourself in a skid, release the accelerator and steer in the direction the REAR tires are going. If, while you are attempting to regain control, the rear tires start sliding in a different direction, adjust the wheel to follow.
When a vehicle gets stuck in snow, the driver’s instinct is to keep pressing down on the accelerator, which only causes the wheels to spin, thus digging the vehicle in deeper. Instead, remove as much snow as possible from the tires and gently press the accelerator to ease the vehicle out.
When driving in cold, wet weather be extra careful on bridges and overpasses as these will freeze first. Also, be cautious during weather conditions ideal for black ice formation – light rain on a road surface at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of ice is very dangerous as it is transparent and looks more like a wet road surface. Give yourself extra distance between you and the driver ahead. Blinding downpours,
thick fog, and heavy snowfall will drastically reduce visibility. The extra space will give you additional time if you have to make a sudden stop or turn.
Be Prepared for an Emergency
An emergency kit in your vehicle will become invaluable if you become stranded or involved in an accident. Some items to considers are a flashlight, road flares, a thermal blanket, duct tape, fluids (antifreeze, window washer fluid, water, etc), rags, tire gauge, etc.
Keep these tips in in mind next time you find yourself behind the wheel during rough weather conditions. More importantly, try to avoid ever having to use them by keeping off the road if the weather conditions make driving a dangerous activity.