Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Driving in Bad Weather

Driving in poor weather can be a terrifying experience. Knowing how to approach stormy conditions will give you the confidence to face anything Mother Nature throws at you. At Sharp, we've compiled an extensive set of tips for dealing with rain, snow, ice, fog, high winds and thunderstorms to help you navigate some of t he more treacherous weather conditions. 

Before going into the various techniques you can employ to better approach unfavourable weather, it should be noted that the old adage "an ounce of preparation equals a pound of cure" is certainly applicable here. In the information age, it is easier than ever to know weather conditions before you hit the road. Mobile apps like WeatherEye can keep you up to date on the move; Twitter accounts like @WeatherCalgary or @WeatherEdmonton can give you up-to-the-second weather updates. Knowing what to expect, or whether or not to drive at all, can save you a lot of trouble. 

  • Drive slowly and cautiously in rainy conditions. Hydroplaning, which occurs when your vehicle's tires ride overtop of water, can occur if you drive too fast. If you feel yourself losing control of your vehicle due to hydroplaning, take your foot off the gas, keep your wheels pointing straight ahead and only brake if absolutely necessary. As you slow down, the weight of your vehicle will reestablish contact between your tires and the road. 
  • Make sure your headlights are on. Visibility can be a serious problem in rain; headlights will ensure that you can see the road ahead of you through the rain. Adjust your speed in accordance with visibility 
  • Keep your windows clear. Your windows can fog up in rainy weather and so it's a good idea to keep your defroster and windshield wipers on to improve visibility. 

Snow and Ice 
  • Clean ice and snow from all windows, the hood and the trunk. Snow from your hood can blow onto the windshield when driving, reducing visibility. Snow on your trunk can do the same for drivers behind or beside you. 
  • As in rainy weather, driving slowly is essential. The road is slippery and the faster you drive, the more likely you are to slide. 
  • Be especially cautious when driving over bridges. They ice over and become slippery much more quickly than other roads. 
  • Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. Stopping distances in snowy weather can be anywhere from three to twelve times longer than in optimal conditions. 
  • Use brakes cautiously. If you hit a patch of ice and begin to slide, do not necessarily hit the brakes. If your brakes lock-up (meaning the wheels do not move at all), you may lose steering control. 
  • If you have anti-lock brakes, press the brake pedal down firmly. Anti-lock systems are able to determine the level of slip and compensate accordingly to maintain steering control. 

High winds
  •  In high winds, be especially cautious of other drivers. Be careful around taller vehicles like trucks, vans, SUVs and trailers, which are more prone to being blown around by high winds. Look out for loose items in the back of trucks and keep your distance if it looks like their cargo may be blown from the vehicle. 
  • Be wary of over hanging tree limbs and other foliage that could come loose and hit your vehicle. 
  • Reconsider driving if you have a taller vehicle or are towing a light trailer. 

  • Turn your headlights to low-beam. High-beams will actually reduce visibility, as the additional light will reflect off of increased water molecules in the air. 
  • Improve visibility by keeping your defrosters and windshield wipers on. 
  • Adjust your speed according to visibility. Remember that you should be able to see at least as far as your stopping distance. 

  • Drive slower than usual and be especially aware of drivers around you. High winds can push vehicles around and it's not unusual for people to stop their cars completely to avoid a fallen tree branch or power line. 
  • If there is extensive hail or lightning, try to park safely beneath an overpass. Hail can cause your vehicle serious damage and lightning could do much worse.