Master Safe Driving in Severe Weather
Be prepared for these five weather conditions when you’re behind the wheel.
Driving is a risk on a clear day, but what about when the weather turns sour? If a tornado siren sounds, or you’re forced to drive through dense fog, it’s important to know how to react.
These simple tips can help you stay safe on the road in five severe weather situations:
Tornado: Don’t try to outrun the tornado in your vehicle! Tornadoes move quickly and can change directions unexpectedly. The best practice is to exit your vehicle and seek shelter. If there’s a building nearby, head straight for the basement or a bathroom. If no buildings are nearby, look for treeless, low-lying land. Crouch and cover your head as you wait for the storm to pass.
Fog: The key is take it slowly. This means avoiding the highway, if you can. Driving slowly gives you more time to react to other drivers, and vice versa. Use your low-beam headlights. High beams simply reflect the fog, making it difficult to see lane dividers and shoulders. Finally, keep your windows open. This helps you hear other drivers you might not see.
Flood: Over half of flood-related deaths occur when cars are driven into floodwaters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Floodwaters move quickly, and drivers often underestimate the current’s force. If you approach a flooded roadway, the safest choice is to find an alternate route.
Hail: Avoid stopping on the side of the road or beneath an overpass. Instead pull over in the first parking lot you see. Stay in your car, but move toward the center of the vehicle in case the hail shatters a window. It’s also a good idea to take cover under a blanket or coat.
Straight-line winds: Often accompanying thunderstorms, straight-line winds equate with tornadoes in strength. Leaving your car might not be an option. Instead, with both hands on the wheel pull your car over to a low-lying area and wait for the wind to subside. You should put your hazard lights on too.
Keep Your Car Ready
It’s always good to be prepared. Store basic first aid supplies in your car in case of injury. Keep a blanket on hand since it can shield you from shattered glass or falling debris. If the forecast looks grim and you can’t stay home, make sure your phone is charged and someone is aware of your travel plans.