Severe Weather Driving

Jan 6, 2010

By Staff writer State Farm™ Employee

Driving in perfect weather can be hard enough. But when severe weather hits, it's important to take extra precautions. Of course you already know that slowing down and increasing concentration can make a big difference. But there are some tips for different kinds of weather that can help you get to your destination safely.

Ice or Snow

Slow down. Bridges and overpasses freeze first, so take it slow and avoid sudden changes in speed or direction.

Keep windows clear. Visibility is crucial, especially in bad weather. Turn the wipers on and crank up the defroster, if necessary. And make sure that all items are removed from the back window area. If you're still having trouble seeing, safely pull over to the side of the road.

Brake cautiously. Abrupt braking can cause lock-up and loss of steering control. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply constant, firm pressure to the pedal.

Resist the urge to "floor it." If you get stuck in snow, straighten the wheels and accelerate slowly. Avoid spinning the tires. Use sand or blocks under the drive wheels.

Rain

Turn on wipers. Obvious, right? But make sure your wipers are replaced every six to twelve months for optimal performance.

Use headlights. Visibility is usually compromised in rainy conditions. Headlights can help.

Keep windows clear. The defroster or air conditioner may help keep windows and mirrors clear.

Be patient. Take it slower than normal. Roads are often more slippery than they appear.

Go around. Never cross a flooded roadway because it's tough to tell how deep the water is. Take the time to find an alternate route. The last thing you want is to get caught in a flash flood.

Fog

Turn on the low beams. Day or night, headlights should be on and set to low beam.

Wait it out. If you're having trouble seeing, safely pull over to the right side well out of the traffic lane and turn on your emergency flashers. Wait until visibility improves before continuing.

High Winds

Look out. Keep an eye out for flying debris. And use extra caution near trailers, vans, or vehicles carrying lightweight cargo.

Some cars shouldn't be driven. It's best not to drive a trailer, van, or other "high-profile" vehicle in high winds.

Severe Thunderstorms

Turn on headlights and wipers.

Listen to the radio. Tune into a local weather station for storm and traffic updates.

Hailstorm

Find shelter. Take cover by driving under an overpass or bridge.

Tornado

Never try to outrun a tornado. Get out of the car and find shelter. If you can't reach a safe structure, lie down in a ditch or low area. Stay face down to protect yourself from flying debris, and cover the back of your head and neck with your hands. Stay alert for flash floods.

Approaching Hurricane

Don't wait. Leave low-lying areas and move inland.

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