When driving, it is wise to recognize and respond appropriately to changes in road conditions. Whenever driving conditions are less than perfect, there are precautions that you can take to make traveling safer.
Choose the Best Route During Inclement Weather
Select the route that will give you the safest road conditions. This may not be the shortest route but it may be the best roads for the situation. For example, if the roads are wet and the weather is cold, the chances of icy patches are increased. Take a route where fewer shadows are cast across the road. A sunny road is less likely to have ice on it.
Also, consider a route with fewer steep hills during snowy, icy weather, even if it will take you a little longer to get to your destination. Also, avoid school zones, construction sites, railroad crossings and any other places where accidents are more likely to happen even in good weather.
Bridges and tunnels are particularly dangerous in cold wet weather. You may have seen signs near bridges that warn you of possible icy conditions when wet. That is due to the cold air above and below the bridge. This tends to cause ice to form before regular roads start to ice over. Tunnels receive no warmth from sunlight so the water that is brought into the tunnel on the tires tends to ice up quickly. It’s always wise to avoid tunnels and bridges if roads may get icy before you get to your destination.
If You Must Travel, Choose the Best Time
When road conditions are bad, consider postponing traveling for a day. Give road crews plenty of time to plow and put down sand or salt. Unless it’s an urgent matter, try to stay off the roads entirely during bad weather. If you must drive, avoid the times of day when road conditions are the worst. Instead, plan your driving after the sun has had a chance to melt the ice. Be aware that shady spots take longer to clear up. Plan to be safely back at home before the sun sets and the roads start to ice up again.
Even if it’s midday, put on your headlights. This makes your car more visible to other cars and shows that you are driving defensively because of the unusual road circumstances.
Good Tires Reduce Accidents
Tires with good treads are able to grip the road better. New tires tend to have deeper, sharper treads than older tires. When choosing tires, talk to the salesman about inclement road conditions. Ask him about the performance of each tread pattern. Shop for tires at more than one tire shop so that you can get the opinion of more than one expert. Spending a little more money to buy tires that have the right type of treads for your area can mean greater safety during those times when accidents are prevalent.
What is Hydroplaning?
The air temperature does not have to be cold to cause adverse road conditions. Hydroplaning occurs when cars skid or slide out of control when the road is wet. This phenomenon is most likely to occur within the first ten minutes of the road being wet, so it can catch you by surprise. As soon as you turn on your windshield wipers, be aware that you may encounter hydroplaning road conditions.
Hydroplaning is caused by light rain mixing with oil on the road. This creates a slippery, slick road surface. The chances of a car spinning out of control due to hydroplaning is increased as your speed increases so always slow down as soon as it starts raining. Try to drive in the tire tracks left by the cars in front of you.
When driving in hydroplane conditions, turn off cruise control so that you can adjust your speed as road conditions change. Keep extra distance between you and the car in front of you to avoid needing to slam on your brakes if the driver in front of you starts sliding or must stop quickly. Take corners slower, avoiding sharp or quick turns.
The treads on tires are designed to push water out and away from the tires. This works best when tires are properly inflated so have your tires check periodically. A good place to have this done is where you bought the tires. They are the most knowledgeable about your tires and they have the right equipment and personnel needed to check them and inflate them to the correct pressure.
Speed and Distance Between Cars are Two Major Factors in Car Accidents
You may have heard other drivers say that people don’t know how to drive in bad weather. What they really mean is that people are driving too fast and are not spacing themselves out when the road conditions are less than favorable. These mistakes are usually made by younger and less experienced drivers who haven’t yet learned how quickly and easily car accidents can occur, especially during bad weather.
So as you can see, cars respond differently when on wet roads than on dry. The first step in staying safe is to understand the factors involved and act appropriately. If possible, avoid driving when road conditions are bad. If you must drive, take the safest route and drive during the brightest time of the day. Invest in the best tires and have them checked periodically. Understand what causes hydroplaning and always reduce your driving speed at the first signs of bad weather.
Accidents are costly, time consuming and sometimes deadly. Taking every precaution is always the wisest course of action. However, if you find yourself involved in an accident, a lawyer may be able to protect your driving rights. Call the car accident lawyer Lexington for help as soon after the accident as possible.