The best tip for driving in bad weather is not to do so, but that is not always realistic. In bad weather, collisions might result because drivers are unaware of how to safely operate their cars in these conditions. Knowing how to drive defensively in bad weather can save your life.
Winter Driving Tips
If you live in an area subject to cold and snow, preparedness is key. Do not allow the car to run low on gas, and keep your phone charged. If there is room, put a snow shovel in the trunk.
In wintry weather, cars often head off the road. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle containing blankets or warm clothing, jumper cables, flashlights, flares, and either salt or cat litter that can aid in gaining wheel traction.
If you must drive in the storm, go slowly. Use your low beams when it is snowing. Avoid using cruise control. Give the vehicle in front of you more distance, and take more time accelerating or decelerating.
Some areas are especially treacherous during snowstorms. That is especially true for highway ramps, so when entering or exiting, keep your speed extra low. Hills are another danger. Do not power up a hill, and try not to stop on a hill.
There are some bad weather events that catch most drivers by surprise. Suddenly, heavy rainstorms are among them. Poor visibility means drivers have more issues judging the distances between vehicles.
Put on the wipers and headlights. Without headlights, other drivers may not see your car. What you should not do is activate your hazard lights. That is a confusing signal since it indicates the vehicle is broken down or otherwise malfunctioning.
Again, drive slowly. Hydroplaning is a major risk in wet weather, and low speed can help reduce those odds. Slow speeds make braking safer.
Driving in high wind is especially tricky for smaller cars, as a strong wind can push them off the road or into another lane. Never stop on a bridge — high winds have been known to push small cars into or even over a bridge barrier.
In high winds, any vehicle is more difficult to control. Keep both hands on the wheel and avoid any distractions, including music.
If you are in a car, stay away from large trucks, buses, and other big vehicles. You must expect the unexpected, since winds may mean downed power lines, tree branches, and debris flying all over the roadway.
Conditions Triggering Claims
When asked what weather-related conditions trigger the most claims, New Jersey insurance agent Kati Robinson mentioned several scenarios.
“Low visibility during rainstorms, slick conditions in the snow, and high wind days tend to be distracting enough to cause drivers to lose a safe buffer between them and obstacles but sudden weather events seem to create the most identifiable clusters of claims," said Robinson.
She adds: “For some unknown reason unexpected weather changes most consistently trigger fender benders, perhaps because drivers are slow to adjust their speed and following distance appropriately.”