Driving Safety: 5 Tips for Traveling During a Storm

Author: Chris Cloude

Yesterday as I was driving home I encountered a thunderstorm and the associated poor visibility, standing puddles, and slick wet roads that occur from such a storm.  The conditions made me think of some good tips for driving during these conditions.  I’ve learned these tips from years of driving and from helping many clients whose injuries resulted from the failure of another driver to drive safely under these conditions.  I hope you’ll find these helpful when you are driving in a storm.

  1.  Be extra careful during the first few minutes of rain or when there is just a misty rain.  These conditions can produce the slipperiest roads, because oil and grease fall on the road from cars and trucks during normal operation.  When moisture first lands on the road from rain, the oil and grease floats to the surface as the roads become wet.  Until there is enough rainfall to wash this mess off the road, the thin layer of oil and grease on top of the water makes the road extremely dangerous.
  2. Watch out for standing water and puddles, and try to avoid them if possible.  If you can not avoid them, then slow down as much as possible before proceeding.  (Of course, watch for vehicles behind you, and make sure you slow down gradually enough or signal a lane change early enough to warn the following drivers of your intentions).  The danger of hitting standing water or a puddle at a high rate of speed is that you may lose control if your vehicle hydroplanes.  Hydroplaning is when your tires literally glide across the surface of the water and lose contact with the pavement.  Think about skipping rocks on a pond as a kid.  Your tires may experience the same effect.  If that happens, you have little or no control over your vehicle.
  3. Turn on your headlights and driving lights.  This will make your vehicle more visible to other motorists and improve your vision of the road.
  4. Pay close attention to any pedestrians.  In rainy conditions, pedestrians may be struggling with the weather and paying more attention to opening their umbrella, keeping it from blowing away, fastening up a coat, or keeping from getting wet instead of paying attention to traffic.   Often the noise of the wind or falling rain interferes with a pedestrian’s ability to hear approaching vehicles.   A pedestrian may walk right out in front of your vehicle because they don’t hear your car. If you are driving near a school or see children walking, be even more vigilant.
  5. Be careful around large trucks and large vehicles.  Larger vehicles throw off a great deal more water spray than passenger cars.  The additional water spray could lead you to be completely blinded by a wall of water on your windshield as you approach or pass such vehicles.  Allow a greater following distance behind larger trucks and vehicles; try to avoid passing these vehicles if possible.  IF you must pass one, then prepare yourself for conditions to change suddenly as you pass the water spray these vehicles cast off.

If you travel during the summer, you are more likely to encounter a thunder storm while on the road, but in the winter, a rainstorm may be combined with icy conditions.  Remember to take your time, use caution, and remember the safety tips described in this article.  You can help make the roads safer for us all.

About the Author: Chris Cloude is a claims consultant with the Fredericksburg injury lawyers of Allen & Allen. Chris works with Fredericksburg car accident lawyer Edward Allen to assist clients with their car accident injury claims in Stafford, Garrisonville, Fredericksburg and the surrounding areas.