Newer drivers of any age, including teenagers, need to be ready for all types of weather and road conditions. As a fresh driver, it is your responsibility to drive defensively and be able to adjust your driving habits at a moment’s notice. You never know when you will come across an emergency, fog, rain, snow, ice, wind, or construction. Part of becoming a responsible driver is always enhancing your driving habits, no matter how long you have been driving. Also those with a few years of driving knowledge can benefit from defensive driving classes to boost their safe driving abilities and skills.
According to the Australia Department of Transportation, more than 450, 000 accidents annually are the cause of poor road conditions and/or weather. Being able to adjust your driving methods properly, whenever road or weather conditions change, helps decrease the chance of becoming involved in an accident.
- Dry Roads on Bright, Sunny Days: Be ready for road construction work areas, broken-down cars, and pop-up rain showers. In construction areas, reduce to the posted speed limit. If you come across a broken-down vehicle, reduce to 25 mph or less, or change streets. During pop-up rain showers, the pavement can become very slick from oil on the road. Decrease speed, increase following ranges, and allow additional time to stop your car.
- Fog and Low Visibility: Heavy rainfall downpours, snow showers with whiteout situations, and fog all reduce visibility. If you cannot see, do not attempt to drive. Pull your car off the road in a harmless area and turn on your hazard lights. Stay in the car until conditions develop. If you are on the interstate, take off on the shoulder under an overpass, as it makes it simpler for other motorists to see stopped cars. Otherwise, start your danger lights and drive at slower speeds to reach your place. Avoid using hi-beams, as the additional light only reflects and makes it even more difficult to see.
- Severe Weather: During serious thunderstorms, hail, high winds, lightning, flooding, and tornados are all probable. Lower driving speeds, ensure your headlights are on, and apply your danger lights if visibility is reduced. Stay in your vehicle if it is hailing or lighting is striking. If you notice a tornado, look for shelter instantly, or get out of your car and take protect in a storm drain, under an overpass, or in a ditch on the side of the road. If you come across a flooded roadway, stop your car and do not drive it through the water until you can confirm the level of the water. It is easy to be deceived, and what seems like only a few inches of water could easily be various feet of fast moving water.
- Tropical Storms and Severe weather: Heavy rainfalls and higher winds are usual with tropical storms and severe weather. As the storms make landfall, they can also spawn tornados and hail. Since these storms are slow moving, the majority have advance notice to evacuate or take shelter before they make landfall. The good things to do are to not drive and to stay inside. If you have to drive, drive at decreased speeds with your headlights on, and use your danger lights for decreased visibility. Be careful of flooded roadways.
- Snow and Ice: As roads become covered in snow, you have to reduce your speed and slow down. Boost safe following ranges and allow additional time to stop. Make sure to pump your brakes or allow the ABS system on the vehicle do the work if you start to slide on ice. In icy conditions, no vehicle is harmless to drive, as there is very little traction, and it is nearly impossible to safely stop. In case you are caught in an ice storm, minimize your speed and get down the roads immediately.
- Driving at Night: Visibility is lowered at night. Use high beams to improve visibility only if there are no oncoming vehicles and nobody is in front of you. Often, drive at lowered speeds and be ready to make sudden stops, if deer or any other animals pass the road. When you add in rain, snow, or ice, driving becomes even more problematic. Use risk free driving techniques for these conditions and account for the darkness by reducing and driving even slower.