Weather can change on a dime. Hot and sunny one minute, blustery and rainy the next. More than just the weather, however, is the environment. Whether you’re driving in a city or out in the country, you’re about to enter a world of new challenges.

Driving during severe weather of any kind can be a dangerous endeavor. Weather-related accidents account for more than 6 million car accidents every year, according to the Department of Transportation. Of those accidents, 1.25 million are weather-related.

While we can’t eliminate weather-related accidents by avoiding it altogether, we can take steps to make our driving safer and more appropriate. We at phoenix personal injury lawyers created a list of tips for driving in various types of weather.

Driving in winter

Everyone knows that snow can be a dangerous driving condition. However, the extent to which it can impact your driving depends on how much snow is on the road and how much you’re accustomed to driving in it. The best way to drive safely in bad weather is to stay a safe distance away from the car ahead of you, and not to swerve into it.

First and foremost, slow down. Even if you’re traveling at the speed limit, your vehicle won’t move as quickly through ice or snow as it would on dry pavement. That’s one reason why drivers tend to speed up in the winter. It’s another reason why it’s important to keep a safe distance from the car ahead of you when traveling on highways, especially in rural areas where visibility can be limited by fog or clouds.

Follow these tips for improving your driving performance:

  • Slow down. Even if you’re traveling at the posted speed limit, your vehicle will move more slowly through bad weather than it would on dry pavement.
  • Do not tailgate. Keep a safe distance from the car ahead of you when on major roads with limited visibility (especially when driving in rural areas). Canadian provinces have varying definitions of what constitutes a “major road.” In most cases though, they are roads that have been built up over the last century and can be relied upon to have good shoulders and clear lines of sight. If possible, avoid driving near railways, cliffs, or other boundaries.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated. Winter tires are designed to work at lower temperatures so they work better than regular tires in cold weather conditions. They also provide better traction on snow and ice because they have larger tread patterns that provide more grip and stability when drivers hit them at speed.

Driving in Heavy Rain

Heavy rains can make driving difficult, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of rainfall. The bad news is that heavy rainstorms tend to be frequent and unpredictable; the good news is that there are ways to protect your vehicle from damage and reduce your chances of getting into an accident.

If you’re driving in heavy or unpredictable rain, there are a few basic safety precautions you should take:

  • Drive at a reduced speed when visibility is poor. This is only true if all other conditions are safe and clear. If it’s raining hard and you don’t want to use the car’s windshield wipers, that’s your choice. But if your wipers aren’t clearing the glass, you might be tempted to go faster than normal. In that case, slow down and drive as safely as possible — even at a very low speed — until the rain has passed.
  • Be Alert. Watch for debris flying through the air from nearby trees and puddles of water on the road. Even if they seem small and harmless, they could cause serious damage to your car.
  • Safe Distance is essential. When visibility improves, stop at least 20 feet behind another vehicle so you have plenty of time to react in case of any sudden movements by other vehicles or pedestrians on the road ahead of you.

Driving in Foggy Weather

Driving under foggy conditions can happen if the temperature and humidity are just right or from a sudden change in wind direction or speed. You don’t have to be driving blind, though; you can prevent accidents by paying extra attention during foggy weather.

Here are some tips for drivers on foggy roads:

  • Slow down. You’re more likely to have a crash if the road conditions deteriorate suddenly and you don’t have time to react.
  • Avoid following other vehicles. In the event of an accident, it’s important that everyone blames themselves, not someone else.
  • Stay alert. Fog tends to cause drivers to be more complacent (and less attentive) than usual, so keep your eyes on the road.
  • Turn on your headlights. This is legal in most states as long as it’s not after sunset or within a certain amount of miles from where you live. If it is too dark to see at night, turn them on early in the morning — before dawn is too light to see is best.

Driving under Extreme Weather Conditions

When you’re driving in extreme weather conditions, it’s easy to be distracted by what’s going on around you. But the way you handle your vehicle can have an immediate impact on your safety, and if you don’t follow the right techniques, you could find yourself in a difficult situation.

The best advice to follow in bad weather is to slow down and pay very close attention to what’s going on around you. That means taking your time while driving as well as staying focused while behind the wheel. It also means obeying posted speed limits.

Conclusion

There are many different things that you can do to help keep yourself safe when driving in severe weather. By taking the necessary precautions and being cautious, you can protect your vehicle, as well as yourself and those riding with you. Hopefully, this list of tips has helped to dispel some myths about how and why you should (and should not) drive in severe weather. However, this list is by no means an exhaustive resource; be safe out on the roads.

About the Author Atty. Jason M. Ferguson

Jason M. Ferguson, the founder of Ferguson Law Group, started his career working for an automobile insurance company as a trial attorney before owning his injury law firm for over 20 years. Attorney Ferguson has a unique experience, having tried cases on both sides of the court system in personal injury trials, unlike many other lawyers. Mr. Ferguson also served over 14 years as an Army Reserve officer and the Georgia Air National Guard. The Albany Herald recognized him as one of southwest Georgia’s “40 under 40” in 2010.