- by Montgomery Miller
- September 9th, 2017
Driving in wet weather
With the recent flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey and the potential for more dangerous storms here in Texas, it seems appropriate to provide some expert advice on how to keep you and your vehicle from becoming another storm related statistic. And although some of these tips may seem obvious, a brief review can’t hurt.
A good first step is to be prepared for unexpected situations that can arise when driving in bad weather. Start with a full tank of gas, always have your insurance information in the car and be clear on the type of coverage you have. If you have roadside assistance included in your coverage, it’s helpful to have that phone number pre-programmed into your phone. Do you have a spare tire? How about a roadside emergency kit with items like jumper cables, reflectors and emergency flares? Be sure your vehicle is serviced on a regular basis. Regular oil changes, checking the air in your tires and inspecting your tires thoroughly before road trips, can help to prevent stressful or even dangerous situations from interrupting your safe and pleasurable driving experience. You’ll also want to be sure your windshield wipers and defroster are in good working order as visibility becomes critical to safe driving in inclement weather. Be sure your mobile phone is fully charged and always have a charging cable in your vehicle.
Pay close attention to weather reports and storm warnings from local and state officials. If they say it’s a bad idea to be out on the road then its best to keep that car, truck or SUV parked. When you do hit the road, it’s always a good idea to know what weather is expected during the day. Here in Texas, keeping a spare umbrella in the trunk can come in handy if you are in an accident or are forced to pull off the road during a storm.
If you are out on the road in heavy rain you’ll want to slow it down and stay as close to the crown (usually the center of the road) of the road as possible. This will reduce the chances of getting your wheels into the pooling that typically occurs on the lowest part of the road. Sudden contact at high speeds with standing water can cause your vehicle to veer drastically.
Don’t tailgate. Adding some distance between you and everyone else is good way to avoid collisions in severe weather. It should be noted that during the first few hours of heavy rain following a dry period, oil and fuel residue that may have collected on the pavement will percolate to the surface making for an extra slippery road. The best policy in any poor weather is to not be in a hurry. Reduce speed gradually and avoid hard breaking.
In colder weather, be aware that black ice can be very difficult to spot and impossible to navigate at high speeds. If you suspect even the possibility that conditions are right for black ice, approach the road with extreme caution. Test your breaks lightly as sudden breaking can cause your vehicle to lose traction. If you encounter black ice, reduce speed slowly by gradually taking your foot off the gas. If you do slide off of the road, immediately turn on your flashing emergency blinkers and call 911 to notify authorities of your location. Stay inside your vehicle until help arrives. Remember, there are other vehicles on the road and reduced visibility may make it difficult to see you if you are outside your vehicle.
In Texas, rainy, stormy weather is an inevitability so avoiding driving in bad weather is nearly impossible. Be prepared, slow down, don’t tailgate and never use a handheld device while driving, especially in poor weather conditions. If you must use your device to contact police, your insurance company or a loved one, pull over safely to the side of the road out of traffic, engage your emergency blinkers and remain in your vehicle.
Be safe. Stay alert. Arrive at your destination safely.