Driving in Extreme Weather
Driving is dangerous at all times of the day or night, no matter what the weather might be. Still, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that roughly 21% of all vehicle crashes in the U.S. occur in adverse weather conditions. Plus, between 2007 and 2016, more than 5,300 people were killed in weather-related crashes, which accounted for roughly 16% of all traffic fatalities.
During the summer months, weather risks are very unpredictable. Flash floods, severe thunderstorms and similar occurrences could pop up suddenly on the road in front of you (even if you left home under blue skies). As a result, you must do your due diligence to stay safe despite these occurrences. It all involves staying calm, following the rules of the road, and taking extra precautions that might not be obvious at any other time.
Rain and Thunderstorms
Thunderstorm activity is widespread across most of the United States during the summer. Though they’re often brief, summer storms can be intense and cause a lot of roadway hazards in a short time.
Should you drive into a thunderstorm:
- Turn on your headlights, wipers and defroster to increase visibility.?Some people also turn on their hazard flashers as warnings to drivers behind them.
- Drive in the tracks of the vehicle?driving?ahead of you and reduce your speed.
- Allow for increased space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
- If you hydroplane, hold the steering wheel straight and remove your foot from the gas.?
If you enter grayout or whiteout conditions, where the rate of the downpour makes visibility minimal, then consider pulling to the side of the road to wait out the storm. Parking lots are the safest places to pull over. However, if you pull over onto the shoulder of the road, make sure to leave as much space as possible between yourself and traffic that is still passing on the road.
A Note About Tornadoes
Compared to thunderstorms, tornadoes are entirely different ball games. Do not attempt to drive through a tornado or outrun one. Instead, get out of your vehicle and find shelter. If there is not a building nearby, lie in a ditch and place your arms over your head.?
Driving in Fog?
Due to summer humidity, fog, mist and haze are not uncommon, particularly during the early morning.
- Slow down before you reach a patch of fog in front of you.
- Use only your low beams or fog lights. Put on your defroster and wipers to increase visibility.
- If the fog is extremely thick, roll down your windows so you can hear other vehicles around you.?
In all hazardous conditions, allow extra space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. In general, you will from three to 12 times the amount of stopping distance that you normally need. The more space you give yourself, the better off you will be.