Driving in Bad Weather
Take steps to reduce the threat and enhance your driving skills
Wet roads are probably the most common hazard we encounter as motorists. In rain, fog, snow, and mud, your car handles differently than on dry roads. Stay safe. Drive smarter.
- Slow down - your car needs three times more space to stop on slick roads.
- Cloudy weather reduces visibility, so use extra caution when passing other vehicles.
- Maintain a distance of six to eight seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
- Be deliberate in maneuvering your vehicle - most skidding is caused by sudden stops and turns.
- If your vehicle skids, don't hit the brakes. Ease off of the accelerator and steer into the direction of the skid.
- If you drive through standing water, lightly apply the brakes to dry them.
- Don't speed up when navigating through standing water. Doing so may cause tires to lose contact with the road (hydroplaning). If this occurs, hold the steering wheel steady and lightly apply the brakes. After your wheels regain contact with the road, slow down until you have full control of the car.
- Be prepared - have tire treads, brakes and wipers checked.
- Never drive while fatigued. Stop every 2 hours or 100 miles and take a brief rest.
- If you are having car trouble, turn on your hazard lights and pull off the road as far as possible to the right. Light flares or signal for help and stay in your car with your seatbelt on unless your car is in danger of getting hit by other vehicles. Carry a cellular phone in order to summon help if you become stranded.
- Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will reflect off the fog, creating a "white wall" effect.
- Reduce speed and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.
- Travel with the driver’s window partially open. Listen for traffic.
- Use wipers and defroster as necessary for maximum vision.
- Be patient! Don't pass lines of traffic unless absolutely necessary.
- Unless absolutely necessary, don't stop on any freeway or other heavily traveled road. If your car is disabled or you can’t continue, pull well onto the shoulder and turn off lights. Move away from your vehicle.
- Consider postponing your trip until the fog clears.
Before leaving home, check conditions for the road ahead:
Mud or Snow
Follow these safety tips the next time you find yourself in a slippery situation:
- You need steady pulling and moderate power when traction is poor. The best remedy when wheels are stuck in the mud or on a soft shoulder is to apply power slowly.
- Keep front wheels pointed straight ahead so the vehicle can move in a straight line. If you can't go forward, try backing out, steering in the vehicle's tracks.
- With a manual transmission, shift to second gear to prevent wheel spin. Accelerate carefully, giving just enough fuel to keep the engine from stalling and ease along gradually until traction improves.
- You may have to "rock" your way out, using second gear in manual transmission and low gear in automatic transmissions. Move forward until the vehicle stops, then allow it to roll back. Repeat, moving ahead a little more each time. Use minimum power to keep the wheels from spinning and digging in deeper.
- If rocking doesn't work and wheels simply spin, find a way to create traction. Traction mats, gravel or kitty litter work best, but you can also use cinders, burlap or branches. Shovel a space in front of the wheels and spread your materials. Apply power slowly, using second or low gear.