Preparation, practice, staying calm and caution are the keys to staying safe in hazardous driving conditions. Conditions such as snow, heavy rain, or even thick fog often relate to an increase in traffic incidents/crashes. Don’t let this make you think that a little bit of snow or rain doesn’t also call for precautions when driving. Vehicles leave oils and exhaust that can accumulate on roads and a small amount of precipitation can lead to slick and slippery road conditions. Though, there may be times where you cannot protect yourself from every danger on the road you can do your part to minimalize the risk.
Driving in Fog
Fog is more common in the colder months and reduces visibility and gives an incorrect perception of your current driving speed. If you feel at any point that you are unsafe to drive or if visibility is so poor, make the choice to pull over on the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If the weather conditions are bad stay in your car and wait for the fog to dissipate. It is not easy to say how long that will take but it is always best to take the safe route when in dangerous weather while driving.
If you must drive in the fog, following are some tips:
- Use your low beam headlights, whether it is day or night. High beams will reflect light back at you in fog, making it even more difficult to see. Use fog lights if your vehicle has them.
- Make sure your windshield is clear and use your wipers and defrosters as needed to increase your visibility.
- Always signal well in advance for turns and brake early when approaching a stop to help others see your vehicle.
- Keep your windows and lights clean to improve visibility.
Driving on Slick/Slippery Roads
Rain is at times not the only cause for slippery roads, any time water gets on the road it can be dangerous to drive. When the weather is dry the oil from our vehicles builds up on the roads and then when it mixes with fresh rain the road conditions can turn hazardous. Large amounts of rain fall, especially when coupled with freezing cold, also leads to slippery conditions.
Tips for driving on slippery roads:
- Slow down – there is less friction causing reduced traction. When you completely lose traction that is when hydroplaning can happen, sending your car out of control.
- Increase space between other cars – with less traction you will need more room to brake.
- Turn on headlights – increase your car’s visibility to other cars.
- Don’t use cruise control.
- Drive in the tracks of the cars in front of you – the path the car in front of you is leaving less water on that part of the road.
- Check your tires – The tread on your tire helps channel water out the way and helps provide traction. If your tire tread is low, you increase the risk of losing control of your vehicle.
For the colder months the same applies to snow and ice. During winter weather conditions it is important to regularly check your car tires for low tire pressure and tread depth, along with your battery. Extreme cold often leads to a dead battery and that is the last thing you want when out in winter weather. Also, remember to make sure your gas tank always has at least a half tank full during the winter.