Driving in bad weather is stressful but, unfortunately, it’s bound to happen at some point. Beyond the stress, the U.S. Department of Transportation found that weather issues are related to one of every five vehicle crashes in the United States.
To avoid causing one of those crashes, follow these safety procedures in bad weather.
When there’s a tornado
The safest thing to do during a tornado is find shelter in a nearby house or study structure. If that's not possible, the National Weather Service recommends driving away from the tornado, as most travel 35-45 miles per hour.
When those two choices are unavailable, look for an area noticeably lower than the road, and lie in it with a blanket or cover over your head and hands. Never stay under a bridge or overpass, weather.gov cautions.
Finally, if your only option is to stay in your vehicle, keep your seatbelt on and put your head below the windows. Cover your head and hands with a blanket.
When it snows
During snow and hail storms, the roads get slick and, no matter how carefully you drive, you may slide. To avoid collisions, when your tires lose traction, look in the direction you want to go because that’s the direction you should steer.
“Say you're going around a turn to the right, and your back end starts to come around too far,” performance driving instructor Forest Duplessis says on How Stuff Works. “This is called oversteer, by the way. The nose of your car is now pointed too far to the right, right? What you need to do is countersteer to bring the car back to the direction you were trying to go in the first place. In this case, you need to point the car a bit to the left to keep it in the street and not on the sidewalk.”
Avoid over-correcting by only slightly moving your steering wheel in the correct direction.
When it rains
When the sky darkens and it starts pouring it’s difficult to see, so drive slower than you normally would even if you have to go below the speed limit.
“If visibility is low, you need to slow way down,” according to dmv.org. “If you can't see more than a few feet in front of your vehicle, it is unsafe to drive ? at all. In this case, pull off the road as far as you can, turn on your hazards, and get away from the vehicle and the roadway in case your car is struck by another motorist who can't see anything either.”
If you can keep driving, come to gradual stops, as opposed to slamming on brakes at red lights and turns. “Brake early, brake slowly, brake correctly, and never slam on the brakes,” advises the Ohio Department of Transportation.
When it’s sunny
Sunshine may not seem like weather that causes accidents but, in fact, the deadliest time of year on U.S. roads is in the summer, according to safemotorist.com. No matter the season, having the sun in your eyes, whether from the sky or reflecting off snow, is dangerous.
“The period just after the sun rises and just before it sets are dangerous times for drivers, whether the days are long or short," according to safetyBUILT-IN.
Combat glare by caring for your windshield with regular cleanings and immediate repairs to chips or cracks. Additionally, keep a pair of polarized sunglasses in your vehicle.
Finally, maintain a safe traveling distance between you and other cars by following the three-second rule, which says to stay three seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. That way, if it suddenly brakes, you have enough time to stop without hitting it.
It’s impossible to completely avoid driving in dangerous weather, but by operating your vehicle according to the safety tips above you can decrease the likelihood of a collision and increase your chance of arriving at your destination safely. This message is proudly sponsored by WMC Tri-State Medical Network.