Spring is finally upon us, but this does not mean that motorists should let their guards down while driving. Wintertime weather can extend well into the spring in certain parts of the country, and this weather can be just as hazardous. Skies can turn cloudy, creating high winds, heavy rains, and even hail that falls onto streets and cars. These are just a few of the springtime driving dangers to be aware of, though.
Winter storms can leave behind significant road damage, including potholes. The weight of snow and ice, combined with heavy snowplows, sand, brine, and salt can leave their mark. After bad winters, cities and counties often cannot keep up with the needed road repairs. Cars can experience severe damage when their unsuspecting drivers run into big potholes.
Watch for Pedestrians and Animals in the Road
Bicyclists, walkers, and joggers alike commonly take to the road to soak in the springtime sun and fresh air. Drivers should expect to see more cyclists and pedestrians and take added precaution.
Additionally, spring is prime mating season for animals. As areas have become more developed over the past decades and animals lose their habitats, they are seen more frequently in populated areas, roads, and highways. While no one wants to hit a wild animal with their vehicle, swerving to avoid a collision can be extremely dangerous, especially at high speeds. Stay alert when behind the wheel, especially at dawn and dusk, when more animals are likely to be out.
Spring weather is unpredictable, and it can bring a lot of rain and floods. Wet roads can be slippery, especially if there are also substances like oil on the roads. This can cause skidding, hydroplaning, and serious accidents. It takes a vehicle four times longer to come to a halt when it is driving on a slippery road. Flooding is also hazardous for drivers, since it is hard to judge how deep the water is when approaching. Flash floods are of particular concern, since they can seemingly come out of nowhere.
Preparing for Spring Driving
This is a good time of year for motorists to get their cars ready for spring. Checking tire pressure to make sure they are properly inflated, replacing wiper blades, and making sure that all the lights work should be on this list.
It is also a good idea to listen to traffic and weather reports; if conditions are uncertain, alternate routes can be planned. The National Safety Council reports that one of the most risky situations is during the start of a light rain, especially for vehicles traveling at 35 or more miles per hour.
Sometimes the best alternative is to avoid driving in bad springtime weather and wait it out until things improve. When driving in this type of weather, it is important to maintain safe speeds, and to slow down and add additional stopping distance.
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