Riding out the storm: Tips for driving in severe summer weather
During spring and summer, you may not have to worry about sleet, snow, slush and black ice. But the warmer seasons carry their own dangers for drivers, such as thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes.
Thunderstorms can make road slicks and reduce visibility. You'll want to make sure you can see upcoming hazards (and have plenty of time to avoid them) by doing the following:
- Turn on your headlights. Use your low beams, not your high beams. According to Weather.com, your state may mandate that you turn on your highlights when it's raining.
- Reduce your speed. Wet roads usually are more slippery than they seem, according to State Farm. Increase the distance between your car and the car ahead so that you can brake if the car in front of you suddenly stops -- or if your own brakes fail.
- Depending on the severity of the storm, the capabilities of your vehicle and your comfort level, you might want to stop on the shoulder to wait out the storm. Be sure to park away from trees, Weather.com warns, as they could fall on your vehicle. Same goes for power lines. Turn on your emergency blinkers to alert other cars and trucks.
- If lightning strikes, Weather.com recommends staying inside your car. It provides insulation against lightning. Avoid touching metal surfaces, and stay away from power lines.
Depending on wind speeds and the size of the ice clumps, hail can bounce off your windshield harmlessly or cause severe damage.
Modern windshields are reinforced to withstand the force of flying objects, according to Progressive. But your back and side windows may break more easily. If hail starts pounding your car, pull over, ideally under an overpass or in a garage. If you can't find shelter, keep your back to the windows and cover yourself with a blanket in case your windows break.
Tornadoes and high winds
Don't assume you can hit the gas and outrun these forces of nature. Instead, do the following:
- When heavy winds buffet your car, get off the road as quickly and safely as you can. The erratic airflow can make your car difficult to control.
- If a tornado is heading toward you, don't stay in your car. Progressive recommends finding shelter in a building if at all possible.
- If you don't have time to find shelter, lie in a ditch, ideally away from any debris. Avoid power lines, and protect your head and neck with your hands.
Preparing for disaster
While you can't control Mother Nature, a bit of preparation can help you avoid accidents -- and auto insurance claims. Tune into traffic and weather reports so you know what's in store. Make sure your brakes, tires and lights are working properly. Keep an emergency kit in your car, and stock it with a blanket, flashlight, radio, flares, reflectors and first aid supplies.
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