It’s been a long, cold winter for much of the country, but now the weather is starting to warm as spring takes hold. However, with spring comes rain, and with wet roads comes the need for drivers to use caution. According to AAA, wet pavement contributes to almost 1.2 million traffic accidents each year. Here are some great tips to reduce risks when driving during the spring.
- Increase your following distance. When water mixes with the oil and grease on the roads, it creates slippery driving conditions. For most passenger vehicles, there should be a minimum of four seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. Larger vehicles may need to increase that by 1-2 seconds.
- Use the fan or defroster to keep your windshield dry and make sure windshield wipers do not leave streaks that can impair your vision. Also, make sure all the windows are free from frost. Accumulation of frost on windows can significantly reduce the field of vision, resulting in dangerous conditions.
- Slow down. Driving too fast in the rain can result in hydroplaning. If you can, follow in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you. Check tire tread depth to ensure they are channeling water correctly. Tires with not enough tread depth are not able to channel water, which results in less control of the vehicle.
- Do not slam on your brakes. With adequate following distance in place, brake pressure should be applied slowly and continually. This allows for a more controlled stop and makes it less likely that hydroplaning will occur.
- Go where you want to go. In the event of skidding, continue to look and steer in the direction in which you want the car to go and avoid slamming on the brakes or turning sharply. Once pointed in the right direction, accelerate slowly.
- Keep up on vehicle maintenance. Here is a quick checklist for you:
- Check the tire pressure monthly.
- Check the tread once a month, because bald tires can increase the chance of hydroplaning.
- Check the alignment and balance of tires regularly so that your vehicle is properly equipped to help you stop safely.
- Rotating tires can help correct irregular tire wear.
- Replace windshield wipers when they begin to dry out.
- Avoid cruise control as it can increase your chances of losing control of the car.
Take your time, slow down!