posted in: Safety
As seasons change, so do road conditions. Each time of year brings a different set of road hazards. Knowing what to look out for can make a big difference in driving safe.
Reliable transportation is essential in the winter. It is especially important to keep your vehicle in top operating condition to avoid any unpleasant or dangerous situations while traveling in frigid weather.
Prepare your vehicle for winter driving:
- Winterize your vehicle. Check with a mechanic to make sure your brakes, wipers, defroster, and heater are working properly.
- Fill your antifreeze and wiper fluids to the proper levels.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated and tread is in good condition.
- Equip your car with proper materials in case of an emergency (blankets, food, water, flashlight, ice scraper, and extra clothing).
- Keep your gas tank full. You may use more gas while traveling because it may be necessary to change routes or turn back during a bad storm.
- Start early and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
- Clear snow and ice from your vehicle’s hood, roof, exhaust pipe, and all windows and lights before driving. Be sure to keep your headlights on if it’s snowing.
- Brake carefully and early. It takes more time to stop on icy roads, in adverse conditions. Allow at least 10 full seconds to come to a complete stop.
- Be aware that black ice may be present. Black ice is a thin coating of ice on a road or sidewalk. It’s nearly invisible but very hazardous.
- Be careful when driving over bridges or roadways rarely exposed to sunlight. They might be icy even if other areas aren’t. Also, avoid activating your cruise control, accelerating, or braking when driving on slippery surfaces.
- Look farther ahead in traffic than normal. Actions of other drivers’ vehicles will alert you to problems and give you the extra time to safely react.
- Stay with your vehicle if it stalls and make an effort to conserve fuel while trying to stay warm. Be alert to any possible exhaust or carbon monoxide problems.
With spring comes rain and warmer weather, two reasons you should be more attentive.
- Watch out for pedestrians. Umbrellas and hoods might keep them from seeing you.
- Drive cautiously. The first drops of rain cause roads to be slick.
- Avoid driving through big puddles. Brakes can be affected by the large amount of water and cause you to skid. The splash may also block the vision of other drivers, causing them to brake or swerve.
- Watch the road to see if the vehicle ahead of you is leaving tire tracks; if it is, follow in those tracks if you can. If it's not, reduce your speed to prevent hydroplaning.
- Allow extra following distance between you and the car in front of you. A car needs two to ten times more distance to stop on a wet road than a dry one.
Who doesn’t want to be outside in the spring after being in the house all winter? When you’re driving, be aware there could be activity nearby:
- Drive slowly. Be prepared to stop at any given moment.
- Look ahead, someone may be running into the street from between parked cars.
- Be aware that bicyclists will be sharing the road with you.
- Look out for motorcyclists.
With kids home from school, you may be taking a vacation or just be out and about more often. Here are tips for summer driving:
- Have your car serviced and inspected for safety.
- Wear your seat belt and make sure everyone else in the car wears theirs, also.
- Stay Alert. When you’re tired, your reaction time is reduced and your awareness is decreased.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going so you don’t have to speed.
- Look ahead for road signs. Last minute lane changing is dangerous for you and those around you.
The end of summer is back to school time. Reading and remembering these tips could save a life:
- Be familiar with school zones. Get into the habit of noticing where school zones and crosswalks are on roads you generally take.
- Stop for school buses with flashing red lights. When you approach the bus, you must come to a full stop for the duration the red lights are on.
- Obey crossing guards.
- Anticipate the worst. Always be aware of the chance that a small child may run in front of you. By slowing down and preparing to brake, you may avoid an accident.
- Be extremely careful in areas with parked vehicles on the side of the road. Kids who are waiting to cross may be difficult to see behind parked large vehicles.
- Avoid backing up. Try to avoid reversing your vehicle in areas where there are children. It's more difficult to see small children.
Fall brings an array of potentially dangerous activities on and near roads of which drivers need to be aware.
Avoid hazards of deer activity:
Deer-vehicle collisions are most common during the fall. Several factors lead to increased deer movement and crashes, including mating season, hunting season, and the reduced hours of daylight. Keep the following tips in mind:
- Be prepared. Watch for movement or eyes on the side of the road and be ready to stop.
- Pay attention to deer crossing signs. They were put there for a reason. These areas have had high rates of car-deer collisions.
- Don’t assume deer won’t roam in a residential area. Deer can jump fences and show up in unexpected places.
- If a collision is unavoidable, hit the deer. This is safer than skidding off the road into trees and ditches.
- Be aware deer sometimes retrace their steps. They will cross the road, then cross back over in the same spot.
- If you see one deer, be prepared for others. They usually travel together.
Farmers are harvesting and will be on the roads more often.
- Watch for slow moving vehicles. A slow moving vehicle (SMV) sign is a reflective orange triangle with a red border that warns other drivers that the vehicle displaying the sign is travelling at 25 mph or less.
- Make sure the drivers of farm vehicles can see you by not following too closely behind them.
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