Safe Driving in Any Weather

Safe Driving in Any Weather

rainy windshieldDrivers are more likely to crash during rainfall than while driving in snow.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), one in five vehicle crashes happens in what is considered adverse weather. This fact adds up to over 1.2 million auto accidents a year. We may think that these crashes are primarily due to snow during the winter months, but many other adverse weather conditions can degrade road safety, such as fog, rain, or even wind. Here are three road hazards to watch for during the winter months that don’t include snow:


A recent North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies report shows that fatal traffic accidents are 34% more likely during “precipitation events” and 27% more likely even in light rain. Furthermore, USDOT says that 46% of crashes during adverse weather conditions happen during rainfall, compared with 18% during snowfall. Even a drizzle can increase the likelihood of a collision. Follow these tips for safer driving in the rain:

  • Keep car maintenance up to date, to whit: Windshield wipers are working correctly, all lights and turn signals are functioning, tire pressure is at recommended levels, and tires are replaced when necessary.
  • Don’t use cruise control in wet conditions.
  • Slow down to reduce the risk of hydroplaning.
  • Avoid turning sharply and braking hard.
  • Increase the distance between you and the car in front of you.
  • Turn headlights on whenever you drive in the rain.

Black Ice:

Black ice isn’t black at all. It’s clear — and that’s what makes it so dangerous. Black ice forms when water or moisture freezes into a thin, transparent ice sheet on roads or sidewalks. Thus, this ice is often indistinguishable from the dark asphalt beneath. Here’s how to respond if you do encounter this wintery hazard:

  • Prepare your vehicle. Check your tire treads and replace your tires if necessary. Keep your windshield clear of snow, ice, or dirt so you can more easily spot black ice.
  • Because black ice is most common when the snow melts and then refreezes, be especially careful when the temperature is dancing around 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep your headlights on even during the day to better spot the shine of black ice.
  • Drive slowly.
  • Beware of areas that are more susceptible to black ice, such as bridges and overpasses, inside tunnels, lightly traveled or untreated roads, or shaded areas.
  • Do not use cruise control.
  • Increase the distance between you and the car in front of you.
  • If you do hit a patch of black ice, leave the brakes alone, let up on the accelerator completely, and keep your steering wheel straight. Most patches are less than 20 feet in length.
  • If your tires start to skid, gently turn your wheel in the same direction that you are skidding.

pedestrian at night

Night Driving:

Compared to daytime driving, night driving poses added risks. Darkness reduces visibility, headlights can be blinding, and impaired drivers are more prevalent after the sun goes down. While most people only do an average of 25% of their driving at night, around 50% of traffic deaths happen after dark. Studies have shown that auto accidents spike in the week following daylight savings time, partially because more commuters drive during the dark. Combine shorter days with colder temps, and there are many more road accidents. Here are tips for night driving:

  • Clean your windshield for better visibility.
  • Regularly test all lights and turn signals, and make sure they are clean as well.
  • Avoid drowsy driving. Stay awake and alert behind the wheel.
  • Drive defensively. You’re more likely to come across intoxicated or drowsy drivers at night.
  • Watch for pedestrians, cyclists, and wildlife.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment