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Driving Cautiously and Smart in Inclement Weather
Soon, we’ll see changes in weather like rain, heavy winds and possibly ice and hail. All of this can result in sleek roads. It’s important to keep one thing in mind when driving in inclement weather: be alert and be seen. This means regularly replacing windshield wiper inserts when they leave streaks or don’t clear rain in a single swipe. Next, make sure all headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning for the sake of other drivers. Turn your headlights on when driving in rain, gloomy conditions and at night.
Wet and icy roads are dangerous as water accumulated on the surface can cause oil and dirt to rise. Combined, water and residue create a film of ice-like slush that makes it difficult for a vehicle’s tires to drive on. When your tires cannot keep up, they will begin to slide. This is called hydroplaning. Some people think hydroplaning only occurs when someone is speeding on wet roads, but it can actually happen at speeds as low as 35 MPH.
Cruise Later – Stay in Control
When driving on wet roads, do not use cruise control. Cruise control, while great for long distance road trips, can make driving dangerous in harsh conditions. It increases the chances of hydroplaning as your vehicle is in a fixed speed. Braking disables cruise control, but without anti-lock brakes, doing so while hydroplaning can make skidding worse.
Slow Down and Leave Room
Always take caution in rain, snow or heavy winds to prevent swerving. When it comes to rainfall, even as little as a half-inch on the road can cause tires to displace a gallon of water per second. This means that even at speeds as low as 35 MPH, even new tires can lose some contact with the road.
Slow down, avoid hard braking or sharp turns and double check blind spots. Also, allow ample stopping distance between cars. This can be measured with the “three second rule”. Select a fixed object on the road like a sign and when the vehicle ahead of you passes it, slowly count to three. If you reach the object before completing the count, you’re following too closely. To maintain a safe driving distance in inclement weather, double the rule to at least six seconds.
Responding to a Skid
Skidding is a relatively common problem that occurs when the road is not as firm or secure due to ice or rain. If you lose traction and begin to skid, slow down by easing off of the gas instead of braking. Our natural reaction is to slam on the brakes, however, doing so will lock the rear tires and lose traction. Next, lightly steer in the direction of the swerve. Do not crank the steering wheel one way or another. If possible, steer the vehicle toward the side of the road, shoulder lane or other safe place.
Be Safe, Be Insured
Although accidents are bound to happen, being insured can help make the aftermath easier to deal with. Get in touch with Shepard Walton King in McAllen to get started in the search for the best insurance plan.