The weather has been warming up and giving a lot of us spring fever. Before you head out to our beautiful highways and byways to blow off some steam, be aware that there are some fresh hazards on the roads.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
Rain and floods. Did you know that rain is responsible for about 46% of all weather-related accidents? Wet pavement in general accounts for 73%.
There may be two reasons for this. One is simply that people don’t realize how much of a danger rain and wet pavement can be. They may not know, for example, that water on the road can increase your stopping distance by four times.
Rain and wet pavement change the way your car handles. Water can get between your tires and the pavement, leading to hydroplaning — where it’s hard to stop. Enough water can pose serious risks — your car could be flooded or you could even be swept away.
Be cautious around any level of flooding. If you can’t see the bottom of the water, you can’t know what could be hiding in there — debris, tree branches, giant potholes and more. It’s easy to make a mistake in high water, so the safest thing to do is make the decision to avoid driving through it.
Winter leftovers. Those potholes? They could lurk anywhere and can sometimes be hard to avoid. Driving over a pothole the wrong way could damage or even disable your vehicle. Unrepaired roadways can be truly hazardous.
Bikes and motorcycles. You may already have noticed bikers on the roads — but a lot of people need a reminder to keep their eyes peeled. Bikers and motorcyclists are easy to miss, especially if you aren’t expecting them. When making a right turn, look left, then look right, then look left again to be sure no one is coming your way. If a biker is following you, try not to cut them off or come to a sudden stop.
Animals near the road. Spring is an especially active time for our furry friends. They sometimes need to cross the road and they can be easily startled. As you drive, keep an eye on the verge of the road so you can spot any deer or other animals that may be about to enter the roadway. Be especially vigilant around dawn and dusk, when many animals are most active.
A few more spring driving safety tips
Now is the time to have your car inspected and serviced.
- Rain and gloom mean you’ll need your lights working. Be sure to check your headlights, tail lights, backup lights, parking lights and turn signals.
- Get your tire pressure checked. It can fluctuate due to temperature changes and having your tires properly inflated can help you if you’re in an accident.
- Consider changing your wiper blades. Again, you’ll need these to be working in times of heavy rain. You don’t want your visibility affected by a loose or ineffective wiper blade.
Slow down. The first few rains, even if they’re light, could be the most dangerous. That’s because water mixes with oil and grease on the road and creates especially slippery conditions.
Remember, you need to drive at a speed that is safe for the driving conditions. That means slowing down even if other drivers are whizzing by. Driving safely is the best thing you can do to prevent being in a crash.