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Driving in the rain

5 Tips for Driving in Severe Weather

Severe weather season is in full swing and will continue to increase through spring into mid-summer, as tornadoes have already broken out in several states this week, it’s time to review tips for staying alive while you drive.

Severe Weather Season

Severe weather season brings the risk of dangerous lightning strikes, destructive winds, flooding rain, damaging hail, and deadly tornadoes.

The season for severe weather and tornadoes begins in March and runs through July.

March is the fifth most active month for tornadoes, according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The most active month for tornadic activity is May with a 20-year average of 281 tornadoes, followed by June at 196, April at 194, July at 103, and March at 82. However, the risk doesn’t end there as the Atlantic hurricane season kicks in on June 1 and runs until November 30, and brings the same severe weather risks.

Tips for Driving in Severe Weather

1. Be aware of weather conditions in your area and route

Before driving in severe weather, make sure you are aware of the weather conditions presently and during the time you will be traveling to and from your destination, particularly on the route you will be taking. If you will be driving in severe weather, depending on the conditions, you may want to postpone your travel. If conditions are likely to change and/or are dangerous, make sure to tune into a radio station that will give frequent weather updates.

2. Check your car’s equipment

Before going out on the road make sure to check your vehicle’s headlights, taillights, blinkers, and windshield wipers. Make sure your tires have the right air pressure and enough tread. Balding tires can severely reduce traction and make your vehicle more vulnerable to skating.

3. Use a modified “3 and 9” grip on the steering well

Many of us were taught to use the “10 and 2 o’clock” hand position on our steering wheel. But when driving in severe weather, where strong wind gusts can suddenly whip your vehicle, it is recommended to use a modified “3 and 9 o’clock” grip for increased control to prevent the wheel from being wrenched away from you if you are suddenly blasted by unexpected wind.

4. What to do if your car hydroplanes

One of the most dangerous situations when driving in wet weather is that your vehicle could hydroplane (skid on the surface of the water). In a hydroplaning situation, you can temporarily lose control of your vehicle. It is important to stay calm. According to personal injuries lawyers Fowler, Helsel and Vogt, here are four steps to take to regain control of your vehicle when hydroplaning:

(A) don’t slam on your brakes. (B) Ease your foot off the gas pedal. (C) Turn your vehicle in the direction your car is skidding. (For example, if your rear wheels are sliding to the right, turn your steering wheel to the right, i.e. turn into the skid.) (D) Slowly turn your vehicle back toward the direction you want to go.

5. Adjust your driving and speed to road conditions

Keep in mind that speed limits are posted for driving in ideal conditions. When driving on wet roads, through active rainfall, or during strong winds, you need to adjust your driving and speed according to present conditions. Slow down to allow yourself more time to brake, stop or make last-minute maneuvers. Additionally, allow more room than usual between your vehicle and others.

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