Preventative Safety Tips for Unsafe Driving Conditions

Although the most common advice for accident avoidance during times of unsafe driving conditions is usually a simple, “Don’t drive when conditions are unsafe!”, this isn’t particularly feasible for those of us with non-negotiable obligations and responsibilities that encompass the upkeep and smooth operation of our everyday lives, and subsequently the daily travels we must take in order to make them happen. According to the website of Williams Kherkher, More than 2 million auto accidents occur in the United States every year. Of these millions of accidents, hundreds of thousands of people are injured, and thousands of these injuries are severe. Of the mere 43% of accidents due to weather that get reported, statistics show us a staggering stack up of 1.5 million car accidents total per year due to this cause. This leaves us with 673,000 injuries and 7,400 deaths. Aside from adopting extra patience and a highly acute awareness of everything around you as your drive in less than ideal conditions, here are some extra precautions that you can take to safeguard yourself and your vehicle from winding up in an accident:

  • In snow: Always keep a 9 second following distance, at minimum. If this seems excessive, it isn’t- driving in snow means loss of traction on the road, and anything less than 9 seconds creates a dangerous potential for not having enough time to react if you (or the cars around you) lose control. Also, when making a turn, always start braking before you are turning, not during. You want to ideally slow down as much as possible before entering a turn.
  • On ice: If you live in a place that reaches below freezing conditions, you need a temperature gauge in your car, as this will allow you to be aware if it is icing outside. The most dangerous form of ice on the roads is “black ice” or glare ice, which takes on the same color as the surface it lies on due to its transparency. The renders you without any immediately noticeable visual warning that roads are slick and unfit to drive on, aside from looking wet. It’s basically invisible. So, if you do find yourself driving on black ice, you must remain calm and make no sudden movements. Do not hit the accelerator hard, and do NOT hit the breaks. The best thing you can do is slowly remove your foot off of the accelerator. When possible, you should seek a place to pull over and wait safely, like a parking lot, until conditions are more manageable
  • In fog: Foggy conditions are the leading cause of multi-car pileups. It forms an optical illusion that makes to appear that you’re driving much slower than you really are, leading people to unknowingly speed up- this is the worst thing you could do while driving in fog! Stay aware of your speed, and turn on your brights- making yourself visible is crucial in avoiding a collision.
  • In rain/sleet/wet conditions: The first simple thing you can do if you know you’ll be driving in heavy rain is to leave for your destination earlier than usual, as you will need to decrease your speed in order to maintain safety. Your car will take longer to stop when the roads render less friction due to wetness. You’ll want to make a point to start braking earlier than usual, lightly tapping the brakes, NEVER slamming them. Also, never use cruise control in this situation, which makes your car accelerate in order to keep your constant speed, which is the exact opposite of what you should be doing!