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Friday, 21 December 2012

Hailstorm driving safety

It probably doesn't come as much of a surprise that Calgary's hailstorm of this past August ranked among Environment Canada's top ten weather events of 2012. Those of us who were on the road at the time still have visions of jackknifed semis and an endless row of vehicles along the highway shoulder. It caught most of us by surprise. So, while it is true that the best way to protect yourself from the dangers of driving in a hailstorm is simply to stay in doors when you know one is approaching, you may not always know. And in this case, you should know a bit about safe conduct when driving in a hailstorm.

  • If a hailstorm has just started before you have begun driving to your destination, it would be a good idea to cancel or delay your plans if possible.

  • Make sure your headlights are on (not your high beams) and try to reduce your speed. 

  • Just as you would allow more distance between yourself and the car in front of you during rainy and snowy weather, keep a good distance back from other cars when driving in the hail. 

  • When it is safe to do so, bring your vehicle onto the shoulder and park outside of the flow of traffic. Avoid parking near objects that may fall on your vehicle as a result of the storm. 

  • Turn on your emergency flashers.

  • Keep your car oriented so that the hail is hitting the windshield; windshields are actually made stronger than the rest of the glass in your car, in order to be able to withstand that extra disturbance. Conversely, the rest of the glass in your car could be broken.

  • If a section of your car's glass does become broken, carefully remove the glass pieces to avoid injury, and try to cover the resulting hole to prevent water from entering your car, causing additional damage.
If your vehicle sustains damage as a result of the hailstorm, notify your insurance provider as soon as you can in order to begin filing your claim. Discussing the damage with your insurance provider will allow them to help you figure out the best methods of going about your repairs. Be sure to set up a time to have the damage assessed. Once you have done these things, then you should go ahead with the actual repair of your vehicle. Whether the damage is strictly cosmetic, or whether it affects the functioning of your vehicle, taking it to a professional is a must. Once the repairs have been made, check your vehicle over to ensure that you are satisfied with the job done. Do not accept the job as complete otherwise, and be sure to get a guarantee in writing from the shop where you had your vehicle repaired. Once the repair is complete, follow your broker's instructions for filing your claim.

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