Spring Showers Bring Driving Safety Hazards

The snow and ice have melted and the hazardous road conditions are behind us. Or are they? Most people don’t consider or realize that wet roads can be just as slick as snow-packed or ice-covered roadways. In fact, rain is the most common adverse-weather condition. Despite this, drivers often overlook the dangers of driving in rain. The hazards associated with rain include:

  • Slippery road surfaces
  • Wet brakes
  • Reduced visibility
  • Traffic congestion

Compensating for these hazards by reducing your speed and increasing your following distance is essential. Also, watch for pools of water on the road. Hydroplaning occurs when tires ride above the road surface on a thin layer of water or oil. Speed, water, tire-tread depth, tire air pressure, and road surface characteristics are factors that influence whether a vehicle is at risk of hydroplaning. It’s possible for vehicles to hydroplane at speeds as low as 30 miles per hour or lower depending on various factors. Watch for other motorists who are speeding or exhibiting aggressive driving behavior, and who may be more likely to lose control of their vehicles. Turn on your lights to help ensure other motorists can see your vehicle.

Fog and smoke also can present a serious and unexpected hazard, sometimes greatly reducing visibility in just seconds. Many serious car and truck pile-ups have occurred as a result of thick fog or smoke. Watch for fog to accumulate in low-lying areas. The potential hazards of fog and smoke include:

  • Reduced visibility
  • Headlight glare
  • Sudden traffic congestion
  • Vehicles stopped on the roadway

When approaching fog or smoke, slow down to ensure there is enough space to stop safely if you encounter slowed or stopped traffic. Use your low-beam headlights. When visibility is severely reduced, consider parking in a safe place and waiting for conditions to improve.

It’s important to plan ahead and be prepared before you head out on the road. Are your windshield wipers working? Tires inflated properly? Head lights working properly? Remember to adjust your speed and following distance in all adverse weather conditions. Also, remember to never use your cruise control in wet or slippery conditions. Do not take chances when weather and road conditions deteriorate. Drive with caution and watch for other motorists who lack the skill or experience to drive safely. Most importantly, under severe conditions, finding a safe place to park and waiting for conditions to improve may be your safest option.

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