There are more than 10 million motor vehicle accidents in the United States annually. In times of inclement weather, whether it be heavy rain, snow, ice or fog, the chances of being involved in an accident increase exponentially. With a few reminders, a driver can greatly reduce the likelihood of a motor vehicle accident in bad weather conditions.
Stopping distances increase dramatically as speed increases. Allowing for a proper stopping distance is probably the number one rule for safe driving in inclement weather. Stopping distance is measured as the distance covered by a vehicle at a given speed when applying brakes. The reaction time of the driver is factored into stopping distances. For an average passenger car, the overall stopping distance, including reaction time, travelling at 30 mph is 75 feet. When the speed is doubled to 60 mph the stopping distance increases to 240 feet, or more than 3 times the distance at 30 mph.
In wet pavement conditions, stopping distances double. On icy roads, the stopping distance can increase as high as tenfold. Stopping an average vehicle on wet pavement at 60 mph may take nearly 500 feet, or nearly a 10th of a mile.
Most are familiar with the rule of allowing 2 seconds of time between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. On wet pavement or ice, the time should be at least doubled. Simply observe the vehicle in front of you as it passes a stationary object next to the road, such as a road sign. Then count how long it takes your vehicle to reach the object. If less than 4 seconds elapse, you are following too close. Slow your vehicle to give yourself distance between you and the car in front.
Braking on ice, snow or wet pavement will differ depending on whether the vehicle has an antilock braking system (ABS). With normal hydraulic brakes, the driver will pump the brakes rapidly to slow the vehicle. The pumping action is intended to prevent the wheels from locking, and ultimately skidding.
On antilock brakes, the brake system performs the pumping action for the driver. The driver simply presses the brakes firmly, keeping constant pressure, and the brake system will rapidly apply intermittent pressure. The driver will know when the ABS is engaged, because the brake pedal will vibrate.
All windows and mirrors should be clear of ice, snow and fog while driving. Avoiding “peek hole” vision can mean the difference between avoiding an accident in time or being involved in one. During winter in snowy or icy climates, carrying a bag of salt, sand or even cat litter in the trunk of the vehicle will pay off should the vehicle become stuck. These items can be applied near the drive wheels to allow for traction, if stuck.
Finally, defensive driving becomes a greater priority in bad weather. Never assume that another driver is following the rules of the road and driving attentively. The driver should eyes roving, checking each direction, including side windows and mirrors. Be especially attentive at intersections, watching drivers approaching from the side or the opposite direction. Avoiding an accident with defensive driving techniques is a better result than claiming an accident isn’t your fault.
About the Author
Sam Marks loves to write about safety for http://www.defensivedrivingonline.net
and has been a professional writer for 3 years. After a car accident that left her at home for several months, she developed a talent for writing about safety and considering things others look past.
We thank you for this article that instructs us on the exact protocols we should take in judging distance when driving in heavy rain, and other inclement weather. With hurricane season beginning, parts of the southern U.S. may be experiencing downfalls of rain and high winds. Keep these safety tips in mind all year. They might save your life. pb