How to Drive in Snow, Rain and Other Adverse Weather Conditions
Almost everyone thinks twice before they do it. To drive in snow or adverse weather conditions isn’t for the fainthearted. But some people aren’t left with a choice on whether or not to drive in bad weather conditions. They have to take their children to school or go to work or do countless other errands on a day-to-day basis. All of us should be prepared and learn how to drive in tough and cold weather conditions.
Approximately 40,000 people lost their lives in car accidents in 2018. That’s why it’s so important to learn about the recommendations for driving in inclement weather conditions. Even if you’ve never had any issues while driving in ice, snow, heavy rain or wet roads you can never have too much knowledge about using the proper techniques to keep yourself safe.
Read on to learn more about the skills and knowledge tools you can use while driving in any weather condition that takes skill, knowledge and experience to navigate successfully.
Encountering Unexpected Hazards
Even the best drivers can end up on unsafe road conditions through no fault of their own. During inclement weather, any unexpected hazard can result in a driver losing control and having a car accident. These types of accidents happen most of the time when the driver isn’t aware of the dangerous conditions of the road due to the weather and other drivers.
Learn How to Drive Safely on Unsafe Road Conditions
While you can’t prevent unsafe road conditions or the unexpected hazards that occur when road conditions become compromised, you can learn how to be prepared and anticipate hazards. All hazards on the road impact drivers around you. By learning how to drive safely no matter the road conditions, you enhance your driving skills to keep you and anyone else in your car safe.
Here are some navigation suggestions on unsafe roads:
- Never speed since you won’t know what’s ahead of you with traffic alert signs or stopped traffic.
- Never use your cell phone or any other electronic device while driving — especially when driving on unsafe roads.
- Use the old safe driving rule of staying behind the car in front of you by two car lengths in case of sudden stops.
- Pay attention to the drivers around you because while you may be driving safely, they may be ignoring safety precautions that could affect you.
Finally, there’s never a good time to be an aggressive driver, but when you’re in inclement weather conditions on the road, you definitely don’t want to exhibit hostile driving behaviors. It’s important to stay in control of both your vehicle and your emotions for optimum safe driving.
Rain is an Adverse Weather Condition
Many people don’t realize that driving in the rain reduces your visibility. Light rain, pouring rain or any consistent rainfall is considered an adverse weather condition that impacts both drivers around you and the road. Driving at high speeds in the rain can cause your car to hydroplane.
Hydroplaning is especially prevalent during the first ten minutes of light rain. That’s because there’s always some engine oil and grease build-up that collects on the roads. The road surface becomes slick because the oily residue hasn’t had time to wash away.
Tips When Driving in the Rain
Rainy conditions can cause roads to be more slippery than when you’re driving on ice. You should follow these tips when driving while it’s raining:
- Give yourself more time to reach your destination, so you don’t feel like you have to speed up to get somewhere on time.
- Turn on your headlights even if it’s daytime because visibility is significantly reduced in rain or the fog that sometimes comes with rain. Headlights allow you to see better and for others to see you too.
- If you can keep your driving speed at 35 mph or slower, you’re less likely to have hydroplaning occur. That’s because tires get better traction on wet pavements at lower speeds, so by slowing down while driving you’ll have enough time to react to:
- Sudden traffic stops
- Disabled cars
- Debris that’s been blown or moved to the road by the rain
- Any traffic slowdowns
- Standing water that splashes onto your windshield
Never tailgate another car, especially while driving in the rain. Give yourself as much distance as you can between you and the car ahead of you. You may need twice as much stopping distance, which equals four car lengths.
Drive in the Tire Tracks of the Car in Front of You
Seventy-five percent of car crashes are rain and wet pavement weather-related. Forty-seven percent happen during the actual rainfall. That’s why it’s important to try to drive in the tire tracks of the car in front of you when it’s raining. The car in front has already scattered some of the standing pool of water on the road and you won’t hit it unexpectedly.
It’s vital that while driving in the rain, you disengage your cruise control because it causes tires to spin faster if you do start to hydroplane. Never drive through water that’s flowing across the road even if you are below 35 mph. That’s because no matter how small or large your car is, it can be swept away in as little as twelve inches of water.
If the water does cause you to hydroplane, take your foot off the brake until your skid is over. The worst thing you can do when you hydroplane is slam down on your brake pedal because in almost all cases, it causes you to lose further control.
Tips on How to Drive in Snow
When it snows, many drivers become confused and unsure how to react to poor road conditions. The confusion and poor decisions often lead to mistakes and car accidents. Before you get into your car to drive in the snow, you want to prepare your car and yourself.
Preparing Your Car for Driving in Snow
It is important that you check the conditions of your tires before driving in snow conditions. You should make sure you have the correct snow tires, and that they have plenty of tire tread. And always maintain the correct tire pressure so you get the best traction.
You’ll notice a line of cars down the side of major highways in almost every snow weather day. These are typically the cars that weren’t prepared for driving in the snow and more than likely have worn tires with little to no tread. Your tire pressure goes down in colder weather so constantly assess your tire inflation. Make sure they match the pressure suggested in your car’s owner manual.
Strict attention to the details of driving is imperative if you’re driving in the snow. One-hour DriveSafe Online Defensive Driving Courses can help improve your driving knowledge, or just remind you what is needed when you want to be a defensive and safe driver. You can also use these defensive driving courses to save up to ten percent on your insurance premium for up to three consecutive years.
Concentrate 100% When Driving in Snow
You need to be 100% focused on driving with both hands on the wheel. Avoid using electronics, even hands-free phones, while driving because they can easily distract you. You should also have an emergency kit in your trunk in case of weather or car-related emergencies. It doesn’t matter how short or long your drive is because, in snow, you need to be prepared for anything.
Also, just like in rain conditions, avoid using your cruise control or any semi-autonomous driving system in winter driving conditions. That’s because snow can sometimes block sensors and road markers your car’s system uses to operate.
Your full attention to driving in the snow includes keeping three to four car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you. The distance between you and the car in front of you is critical to being able to brake when needed while not losing control of your car. If you slam on your brakes in the snow, you could go into a skid that you might not be able to stop.
Two Types of Car Skids
There are two types of skids. They are:
- Front-Wheel skid – when the front tires lose grip on the road and take your car in a wide arc. When this happens, you need to take your foot off the gas. Usually, in less than a few seconds, your front tires regain their traction and the car can be aimed where you want it to go.
- Rear-Wheel skid – when your rear tires lose traction on the road and you start spinning in quick circles. Keep your steering wheel turned into the direction of the skid while you take your foot off the gas. Never hit the brakes as your rear wheels will regain traction in a couple of seconds, and you can steer it at where you want it to go.
You can start to use your brakes if you feel you can recover the car’s traction without hitting anything in the process.
Emergency Supplies and Other Winter Driving Tips
In your emergency supplies, you should always have a full tank of gas, non-perishable high-protein snacks, water, flares, a first aid kit, gloves, blankets, a jumper cable, a shovel and tire chains. The tire chains are available in case you have to install them on your winter tires for particularly tough snow conditions on the road.
Many people think that four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive means they are good to go on the roads even if they’re covered in snow or ice. That’s incorrect. Both driving systems help you get moving on snowy or icy roads, but they can’t help you brake your car any faster.
You also should make sure your visibility is clear before you start driving in the snow, and that includes de-icing your windows fully before driving.
Learn your car’s traction limits by practicing how the car reacts if it goes into a skid. This can be safely done in empty car parking lots. These skills must be practiced from time to time because these driving techniques don’t often come to you naturally.
Additional Training is Worth Your Time and Effort to Keep You Safe
Learning more about the proper techniques for driving in snow, rain and other weather adverse conditions can one day save your life.
Defensive driving courses can help reduce your car insurance and give you a skill set that can keep you safe on the road. Now that you’ve learned about what you shouldn’t do as well as what you need to do, it’s important to develop those techniques so you can be a safer driver.
Try the DriveSafe Online free demo today to sample the driver improvement program for yourself.