As a motorist faced with wet weather, including rain, snow, sleet and ice, your goal is to see and be seen. Safety information provided by the AAA Exchange includes the disturbing statistic that nearly 1.2 million annual car crashes are related to wet pavement issues. When you live and drive in the eastern part of our country, you must be especially careful during harsh winter weather. It only takes a thin layer of snow on the roadways to make driving problematic, and as colder, icier conditions develop, roads can become increasingly dangerous.
Before you leave home, do a preliminary examination of your vehicle. Make sure all your lights are in good working condition, including headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals. Turn on your windshield wipers, too. Do they leave streaks? If they are not making a clean sweep, replace the inserts; in wet weather, you need every visual advantage you can get. Also, remember to turn on your headlights whenever you drive in rain or snow, and use the low beams in especially bad weather conditions.
When driving in wet weather, you should slow down to reduce the possibility of hydroplaning. Reducing your speed is critical; even at 35 miles per hour, your tires could still lose contact with the road. Avoid hard braking and do not make sharp turns. It is also a good idea to drive in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you. Allow ample space between your vehicle and others so that you have sufficient room to stop, especially if an emergency situation arises. Do not use cruise control because in wet weather you need to have firm, foot-to-the-pedal control.
If you feel your car going into a skid, the first rule of thumb is not to panic. There are two simple steps to follow. First, continue to look and steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go. Second, to maintain control, do not slam on the brakes. As long as you do not upset the balance of your vehicle given this kind of situation, you will likely bring yourself out of the skid smoothly.
In any season, in all conditions, it is a good idea to carry an emergency travel kit in your vehicle. Make sure you have at least half a tank of gas when you start out. Remember that in wet conditions, highways can easily turn into “parking lots” and you may be late arriving at your destination. Remove snow and ice from your windows, outside mirrors and vehicle lights, and be sure to listen to weather advisories and carry a cell phone. The latter is important in the event you are involved in an accident. You will want to call 911 if anyone has been injured and, depending on the circumstances, you may want to place your next call to a personal injury lawyer.