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Safety: Vehicle Safety

Summer weather Driving Tips

Whether cruising on four wheels or eighteen ….. to the corner store or cross-county, the following summer weather, safe driving tips from The Hartford ring true no matter where in the USA you may be traversing.

Don’t be fooled. While rain does not stick to the road like snow, it can make for hazardous conditions, especially slick surfaces and compromised visibility. Slow down; turn your headlights are ON; maintain plenty of room between the vehicle in front of you; and if caught in a sudden, torrential downpour, safely pull off of the road.

“Flash floods are the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., so if you suddenly encounter roadway flooding, turn around. Never drive through deep water and never drive past a barricade. Cars can begin to float in as little as one foot of water, and it only takes about two feet of rushing water to sweep away most vehicles.”

If you’re caught in a Thunderstorm
“Pull over, turn off the engine, keep the doors and windows closed, and wait for the storm to end. Stay inside the car and avoid touching metal surfaces and using a phone. Cover yourself with a blanket/coat, or lie down on the back seat or floor as far from the windows as you can manage, just in case flying debris picked up by the wind cause the glass to shatter.

It’s safest to take shelter inside a closed building. If that’s not possible, you’re safer inside a metal-topped vehicle rather than outside it. If it’s struck by lightning, it will act as a Faraday cage, allowing lightning to flow around the outside of the car and into the ground.”

“If hail starts to fall while you’re on the road, find a safe place for you and your vehicle as soon as possible. Small hailstones can be a scary distraction and lead to unsafe driving. Larger hailstones can shatter your windows and even injure you or your passengers.” Try to get under cover and “stay put until the storm is over. As with strong winds, try to shield yourself from possible glass breakage.”

“In the U.S., ‘tornado season’ lasts from March to June. But twisters do not subscribe to calendars, so don’t be surprised if a tornado watch or warning is issued any time of the year.

If you’re driving in conditions conducive to tornadoes, check the weather regularly. If you’re far from home, know what town (or at least what county) you’re passing through in case a weather alert mentions your location. If a tornado seems likely to form or is detected nearby, your best bet is to park your vehicle and hunker down inside a building. Sturdier structures with interior hallways, basements or shelters are best. Mobile homes, on the other hand, are very vulnerable.

If you see a tornado approaching, but there are no buildings around in which you can take shelter, you may be able to drive away from the tornado. Do not take shelter under an overpass during a tornado. Aside from the traffic congestion issue, the design of the overpass can actually increase the effects of wind and flying debris, placing you in greater danger.

As a last resort, position yourself below ground level (e.g. in a ditch or culvert) and cover your head with your arms; or stay in your vehicle, seat-belt buckled, with your head down.”

When visibility is drastically reduced, turn on your headlights; slow down; increase the cushion of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

High beams reflect off the water vapor in the fog and actually further impair your ability to see. “Use the lines on the road to help you stay in your lane. If you can’t see well, open the windows to better hear passing traffic. If you can’t see at all, pull over–into a parking lot if possible. If that is not an option, pull over as far onto the shoulder as you can.

Dense fog usually doesn’t last very long, so you can wait it out. Be sure to turn off your lights because if you leave them on, other drivers could think that you’re part of moving traffic and possibly collide with you.”

Dust Storms
While most common in the Southwest and in certain arid portions of the Midwest, dust storms can occur “wherever wind and loose dust are present. Because visibility will be impaired, use the white lines on the road to keep your vehicle pointed in the right direction. And as soon as possible, pull to the side of the road.” Unlike fog, which typically dissipates quickly, dust storms often last for several hours. So if you’re waiting it out on the side of the road, “turn off your engine to keep the dust out of your air filter. And turn off your lights to discourage other drivers from trying to drive behind you.”

The Hartford’s Bottom Line
No matter what the season or destination, “make sure that your windshield wipers and tires are in good condition, and that your lights and turn signals are functioning properly. Keep your cool. Take your time. Avoid driving anywhere you do not feel safe.”

Information source: The Hartford Extra Mile