Driving is one of the most dangerous activities that we do on a daily basis. The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 2.5 million people required medical attention at emergency departments in 2012 and 200,000 people required hospitalization. Sadly, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety there are 30,000 traffic fatalities every year. When inclement weather such as rain, hail, high winds, snow, or fog are added to the mix, collisions happen at an even higher rate. There are important safety precautions to take during bad weather driving that will keep you and other road users from being involved in an accident.
Navigating the Roads in the Rain
Charlotte receives just over 41 inches of rain per year, according to US Climate Data. One would assume that with that much rainfall, North Carolina drivers would be right at home in wet conditions. While this may be true for many drivers, there are plenty of people who don’t realize that during prolonged periods of time when the sun only shines, the roads become coated in a thin layer of oil. The most dangerous time to drive is within the first 24 hours of rain following a dry spell, as the oil and other road debris haven’t had time to be washed away. Slick roads from rain and oil are only part of the problem.
Hydroplaning and How to Counteract it
During heavy downpours, standing puddles can occur on our freeways and highways, especially on roads where heavy traffic has caused ruts in the road. Hydroplaning can occur, where the car’s tires disengage from the ground and temporarily rise up on top of the water, just like a water skier. This proves to be incredibly dangerous, as the driver will suddenly have no control of their vehicle. To counteract a hydroplane, one must counterintuitively steer towards the direction their car is veering towards to realign the wheels with the direction the car is traveling. Once the hydroplane has ended, only then should the driver apply the brakes (slowly at first). Making sudden, drastic maneuvers will increase the likelihood of crashing.
How to Stay Safe in Various Types of Poor Weather Conditions
Whatever the current road conditions are like (fog, rain, or ice) the main thing to remember is to slow down, allow more space between the car in front, use proper turn signals, and turn on the car lights. Follow the steps listed below to ensure an extra measure of safety during adverse weather conditions:
- Slow down below the speed limit if necessary;
- Keep the distance greater between your vehicle and the vehicle in front;
- Refrain from sudden maneuvers or hard braking when the roads are covered in ice, hail, snow, or water;
- Plan drive time in accordance with slower speeds during inclimate weather;
- Use your headlights to improve the visibility of your car (however, high beams may decrease your visibility during times of thick fog);
- Avoid large puddles that could be hiding potholes;
- Avoid uneven pavement;
- Change lanes slowly and with extra vigilance;
- Ensure that your tires are in good condition, rotated frequently, and have plenty of tread;
- Never use cruise control; and
- Use your turn signals.
If you have been involved in a car accident during inclement weather, you may be entitled to damages to pay for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering if the other party is proven to be negligent. Contact an experienced Charlotte car accident attorney today for legal advice.