When you're learning the rules of the road, you may find that driving in conditions that involve strong or heavy wind and rain can feel dangerous. Thunderstorms and tropical weather in summer can make for a turbulent ride. While no one wants to get stuck in a bad storm, but when it happens to you, there are many things you can do to keep yourself safe and avoid the dangers.
Driving in Stormy Weather
Any type of severe weather can significantly increase a new driver's risk of an accident. Here's what you can do to take care of yourself when driving and there's a storm:
- Get rid of distractions. Don't talk on your cellphone, text, or play music when the weather is bad. You need to give driving conditions your undivided attention.
- Don't listen to music, but it's a good idea to listen to storm updates on the radio, especially if you're driving around most of the day.
- If there's a bad storm going on when you're ready to go someplace, stay home. Wait for bad weather to clear before leaving the house.
- Stop if you need to. If you can't see more than a few yards, or there is hail, it's not safe to drive. Pull to the side of the road or into a parking lot and wait for the weather to clear.
Navigating High Winds
If you're driving in heavy winds, you may not realize it's important to take precautions. Winds can cause accidents and injuries. Strong wind can happen just about anywhere, but it's more common in wide open spaces, such as stretches of highway. Wind can also be dangerous on highway overpasses and inside tunnels. If you live in a tornado-prone area, keep tuned into local weather reports. You may need to exit the vehicle and take cover if news stations report a tornado touching the ground.
Here are a few tips to cope with heavy winds if you're behind the wheel:
- Anticipate wind gusts and be cautious when you're driving through an area that is prone to stronger winds or when strong winds are anticipated by the weather reports.
- Be aware of larger vehicles. Tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles are more susceptible to high winds. Be on the lookout for drivers who are having trouble staying in their lane.
- Keep your hands firmly on the wheel. Wind can cause you to veer right or left but you can maintain control by using both your hands to steer. Stay alert, and drive cautiously, especially if you're in a large vehicle or truck.
Driving in Heavy Rains
Most heavy rain reduces visibility for drivers, so prepare to cope with this. At one time or another, all drivers encounter horrible weather. Stay calm and remember what you learned in your driving classes. Always obey the rules of the road.
Cars and trucks are also at increased risk for hydroplaning, which can cause deadly accidents. Hydroplaning occurs when your vehicle travels too fast in wet weather, causing the vehicle's tires to travel on a thin layer of water instead of gripping the road. Steering and braking is difficult under these conditions, and hydroplaning can even cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
Follow these tips to help you stay safe while driving in heavy rain conditions:
- Always take your time. A slow-down may be the only thing that can prevent your car or truck from hydroplaning.
- One of the most dangerous times to drive is during the beginning of rainfall. During this time, oils from cars and trucks on the roadway cause slick conditions. If it's just started to rain, wait a few minutes before heading out.
- Turn your lights on and keep them on as long as it's raining. This will help other vehicles see you. In many states, this is the laws, even if the sky is bright during the rainfall.
- Give other vehicles on the road more space to maneuver by adding a few extra seconds of following time. This will give you more time to react to traffic conditions if you need to.
Take time to understand how bad weather can affect your driving skills. The first few times you're out on the road in bad weather, you will probably benefit by having a licensed driver with you. When you're learning to drive, you're always better off safe than sorry. So take the time to learn how to drive in weather conditions, and if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, assess the best course of action. Often, severe storms will pass quickly, so you may want to just sit it out and wait to start your car after the sky has cleared. Looking for more driving tips? We have plenty! Read our blog and learn what skills you need to become an excellent driver for life.