Driving in Bad Weather
Driving in bad weather can be very stressful for several reasons. It often takes longer to get where you are going and can mean you have to take alternate routes. Winter driving is different from summer driving, and rain changes more driving conditions than you may think. Regardless of the type of bad weather you may be driving in; there are steps to take that will make your trip safer and less stressful.
Plan Ahead. Leave more time than usual to get to your destination and double-check the roads along your route. If you can avoid the trip, it may be best to do so. By staying off the roads, you can avoid adding to traffic and leave more room for emergency vehicles.
Drive Slowly. There’s hardly ever a reason to speed, but in bad weather, it becomes even more dangerous. Follow the posted speed limits, and this is one time where it may be best to go below them.
Leave Extra Room. Under normal, dry circumstances, recommendations are to stay at least two seconds behind the car in front of you. When the road is wet, or it is raining, double that and remain at least four seconds behind. Snow-covered or icy roads are even more dangerous, so increase to a 10-second distance behind the car in front of you.
Check Your Vehicle. There are specific tasks that you can do in advance of bad weather, such as winterizing your vehicle. You’ll also want to make sure your windshield wipers are working, and your headlights and taillights are easily visible.
Always Use Headlights. Most modern vehicles come with running lights, but those are not enough for driving in bad weather. Use your low beams in fog and rain, regardless of the time of day. Headlights are not only to help you see ahead of you but to help other vehicles see you as well.
Pay Attention. Keep up with traffic, road conditions, and changes in weather by listening to a local weather station. Even with satellite radio, you can find local weather changes and listen to them during bad weather.
Minimize Distractions. If you are fatigued, pull over and take your time driving. While distracted driving is always a potential danger, this risk increases during bad weather.
Staying safe while driving in bad weather is your responsibility as a driver. But some of that responsibility does fall on your passengers. All passengers should buckle up and help by keeping the distractions to a minimum. Driving in bad weather takes a lot of extra energy and patience, so try to make the environment as conducive to this as possible.