Tips to drive your car in bad weather
Driving a car isn’t just a way to go from one place to destination, it is a serious responsibility. It is a dangerous machine for you and others, especially when you have to drive in bad weather. There are special driving tips to avoid accidents when it is raining, roads covered in ice or driving in thick fog.
1. Driving in fog
Do not drive at your usual speed. Slow down so that you have time to react to different hazards that may appear on the road. If visibility is extremely limited, park in a safe place and wait for the fog to clear. If you are driving in really thick fog, turn off the radio and keep the windows rolled down. This way, you will be able to hear what’s happening around you to partially make up for your limited visibility. Don’t drive with your high beam. Fog contains tiny water drops that reflects light, making your visibility even worse. One should drive with the low beams on. So that you can see the roads and the other drivers can see you. When the fog is really thick, drivers usually move closer to the center of the road. Beware of this natural tendency and make sure to stay on your lane. Let the outer line be your guide. This way you won’t run into oncoming traffic or get blinded by the headlights.
2. Driving on black ice
A black ice is tricky. Even in most cases you can’t spot it until it’s too late. When driving at night your headlights can serve as useful warning that there is ice ahead since the reflect of road. If you absolutely have to drive when the roads are covered in black ice, be extremely careful near bridges. They are more likely to be icy than the rest of the road. And even if they’ve been salted to prevent cars from skidding, this road salt tends to slide down from bridge slopes pretty fast. Braking is one of the worst things you can do on black ice. When you know there is a patch of icy road, let go of the brake even before your tyres make contact with it. If you are going to a pretty high speed it is better to pump the brakes rather than slammed up. Otherwise your car may start skidding uncontrollably.
3. What to do if your car starts skidding
First of all, take your foot off the accelerator. In most cases, if your car starts to skid, this means you are driving too fast. Don’t slam on the brakes. This will shift the weight of the car and only cause it to lose control of your vehicle. A lot of people who drive a stick have been taught that, along with letting off the gas, you should also change the gear to neutral. Professionals, however, recommend against this. In order to shift into neutral, you need to take your hand off the wheel, which puts you at risk of losing even that tiny bit of control over your car that you had before. Look in the direction where you want to go, not at the thing you are trying to hit. You see, in a panicked state of losing control over your car and focusing on all the stuff you’re trying to avoid crashing into, you’ll actually subconsciously steer towards that object. Basically, if you don’t want to skid into a tree, don’t look at it!
4. Driving in heavy rain
Don’t drive with your rear fog light on, in a heavy rain. The driver behind you might mistake them for brake lights and will be tempted to slam theirs. On wet roads that a dangerous mistake for everybody around. Turn on your headlights as soon as it starts to rain. This will help other drivers spot your car faster. And, of course you will be able to see the road better in poor visibility. Don’t use cruise control. When you control the speed of the car yourself, you naturally accelerate and slow down to maintain the speed limit. Doing this shifts the weight of your car, giving it better traction, even on a slippery wet road. Cruise control takes away this weight shifting, means less traction and a higher risk of skidding. Even if you are not driving really fast in the rain there is always the risk of hydroplaning. It is basically when sitting water acts as a lubricant between your wheel on the road, pretty much lifting your tyres off the surface. In this case, do not turn the steering wheel. Immediately take your foot off the accelerator. Then slowly and steadily press on the brakes. If you notice deep water ahead, just turn around. Driving through a large pool is too risky. You might damage the electronics of your car, get stuck, or even get swept away if the water is moving.
5. Driving in the rain at night
Rain drops on your windshield act as lens that reflect light. As a result, they can temporarily blind you. Especially if it is pouring rain and your whole windshield is covered in water, try to adjust your headlights so that the lights don’t shine out. You might try a hydrophobic washer fluid. It keeps rain drops from sticking to your windshield. And, of course, make sure your wipers are in good condition. Replace them once a year to keep them in tip-top shape. If visibility is just too bad and if you feel uncomfortable driving in heavy rain, pull over and wait for sometime if you can.
6. Driving in the snow
Reduce your speed dramatically and turn on your lights if a snowstorm has caught you off guard. Try to stay at least 3 car lengths away from the driver ahead of you. The same goes for rainy conditions. If the visibility is extremely low, slow down and turn on your hazard lights. Avoid using your brights since they can reflect light and blind you. If you can, pull over to the shoulder and wait until the weather conditions improve. If you’re on a highway, look for an exit. Whatever happens stay in your car. It’s dangerous to leave it in heavy snow or even rain.
7. What to do if your car went into a snow drift
If you accidentally driven over a snow mount on the side of the road, do not turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction. Keep the same direction as before and steadily accelerate to get back on the road. If you are stuck in a snow drift and you are in a stick, put the car inn the lowest gear. This way your tyres will spin more slowly, and you will avoid the risk of digging yourself deeper into the snow. You can also try rocking your car. If you manage to back it up a bit, then go forward. Keep doing this rocking motion. If you are lucky, you will be progressing forward more and more until you get back on the road. However, if this method doesn’t get you out of the snow after 5 minutes of trying, stop. Otherwise you may harm your transmission.
8. Driving in a dust storm
As soon as the dust storm hits, pull over and entirely off the road. Also make sure all your head and taillights are off. If you don’t turn off the lights, other drivers may believe that’s where the road leads. They’ll follow you and crash your car. Do not resume driving until it is safe to continue your trip. If you can’t get off the road, decrease your speed to the bare minimum. Follow the white lines on the shoulder to make sure your car is pointing in the right direction. Stay calm! Most dust particles pass within few minutes.