Driving in rainy conditions or adverse weather conditions isn’t for the fainthearted. But some people don't have a choice on whether to drive in extreme weather conditions. They have to go to work, take their children to school, or do countless other errands daily. All of us should be prepared and learn how to drive in severe weather conditions.
In 2018, nearly 40,000 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes during unsafe weather conditions. That’s why it’s essential to learn about safe driving techniques during wet weather conditions. Even if you’ve never had any issues while driving on a wet surface, slick surface, snowy conditions, foggy conditions, or icy conditions you can never have too much knowledge about taking extra precautions to keep yourself safe.
As a driver, you might be surprised to know that most bad weather car accidents occur on wet and slippery roads. While drivers may take caution and drive slowly in inclement weather conditions – and especially drizzles – can cause a false sense of confidence.
Research shows that 24% of all motor vehicle crashes occur in bad weather, such as rainy, snowy, and foggy conditions. Yet an alarming number of drivers don't account for adverse conditions in rainy weather that should warrant safety precautions, such as safe distance between vehicles and slower speeds.
If you don’t want to be another statistic, safe driving in bad weather conditions can be summarized in these 7 helpful tips:
Before you think about turning your ignition key, take time to check the weather forecast online or via weather apps on your phone. If a blizzard or light rain is in the forecast, it's best to wait it out rather than driving to a restaurant for dinner. If rain is expected to subsidize in several hours, plan your day accordingly and run your daily errands in the evening when there's perfect weather outside.
Take time to check your vehicle before hitting the road. Top off all fluids, especially windshield wiper fluid and antifreeze in a snowstorm. Make sure that all tires are inflated, both headlights work properly, and your battery has been tested to mitigate the risk of getting stranded in freezing temperatures. Make sure you have proper auto insurance coverage.
Ensure a minimum of 2-3 seconds between vehicles for normal driving conditions, including dry roads, good tires, and day-time, etc. During imperfect conditions, such as rain, light fog, or night-time driving, increase the following distance between vehicles to 4 seconds. In dangerous conditions, such as dense fog, heavy rain, ice, or snow, increase the following distance between vehicles to 6+ seconds. If you think about it, allowing more distance between vehicles doesn't increase travel time to your destination, but it reduces your odds of being involved in a rear-end collision.
Be Prepared: What to do After a Car Accident
Taking abrupt actions such as quick lane changes, panic or hard braking, and high-speed merging during bad weather conditions increases your odds of losing control of your car. It's much safer to drive in a smooth and controlled manner to maintain control. Most roadways are crowned in the middle, which means during heavy rain the water runs off to the sides. If possible stay toward the center of the roadway to avoid deep standing water puddles, which may cause your vehicle to lose control, hydroplane, and possibly crash.
For many years, carmakers have used technology to improve the car’s ability to maintain safety and control while driving in bad weather conditions. These features include traction control, electronic stability control, four-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, freeze detectors, active body control, accident avoidance, fluid level monitors, and telematics.
While some of these features are automatically “active” when you're driving, others aren't and you must turn them ON. Make sure you understand how to turn on your traction control and stability control features in poor weather conditions. Also, you must know how to operate or use safety features such as anti-lock brakes for safe driving. You must apply constant pressure for anti-lock brakes to work.
Lane changes, bridges, intersections, and merges. Pay more attention to pedestrians and bicyclists who might be forced to share the roadway with vehicles. Not paying attention in these high-risk areas certainly increases the odds of hitting a bicycle, car, or pedestrian. Many pedestrian accidents typically result in serious bodily injury including traumatic brain injury, broken bones, and head trauma, and traumatic brain injury.
Decatur has an abundance of bicyclists. The city has committed huge amounts of money to make Decatur’s roads bicycle-friendly. Drivers must be on high alert for adjacent bicycle lanes when approaching intersections. Bicycle crashes typically occur when a driver makes a right turn at an intersection and collides with the cyclist in the correct lane on the driver’s passenger side.
Bicycle accidents also frequently occur when drivers make a left turn at an intersection and collide with the bicyclist in the adjacent bike lane who is moving through the intersection on a green light and with the right-of-way. Being aware of these common bicycle accident patterns can dramatically reduce the possibility of causing an accident.
Increase your vehicle’s visibility. Be sure your vehicle’s headlights are functioning. Research shows that driving with your “low beam” headlights on, not your parking lights, substantially reduces potential auto accidents up to 38%. In Georgia, headlights are required to be on when driving from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise, anytime it's raining, or any time when there is limited visibility to render unclear discernible persons for at least 500 feet.
If you need legal help or have questions about what to do after a car accident in Decatur, the experienced car accident attorneys at Marks Law Group can help. We recognize that most drivers are unsure what to do following a motor vehicle accident. Our legal team can advise you on the best legal options for your situation—and we have been helping injured drivers win car accident cases for decades and help you, too. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our personal injury law firm today at 404-939-1485 for legal advice.