Can you drive safely in every type of severe weather?

It’s helpful to know how to drive competently in every kind of bad weather.

Are you well equipped for severe weather driving conditions?

Driving in perfect weather is hard enough, but when severe weather hits, it’s important to take extra precautions. You probably already know that slowing down and increasing concentration can make a big difference. But these extra precautions for specific kinds of weather can help you get to your destination safely.

Tips for driving in ice or snow

Slow down. Bridges and overpasses freeze first, so take it slow and avoid sudden changes in speed or direction. Watch out for black ice.

Keep windows clear. Visibility is crucial, especially in bad weather. Turn on the lights and wipers and crank up the defroster, if necessary. Scrape the ice off of your windows before you leave to ensure proper visibility. Also, make sure that all items are removed from the back window area. If you’re still having trouble seeing, carefully pull over to a safe location well off the roadway.

Brake cautiously. Abrupt braking can cause lock-up and loss of steering control. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply constant, firm pressure to the pedal.

Resist the urge to “floor it.” If you get stuck in snow, straighten the wheels and accelerate slowly. Avoid spinning the tires. Use sand or blocks under the drive wheels.

Tips for driving in rain

Turn on wipers. Yes, it’s obvious, but remember to keep them maintained. A beam wiper blade will provide more uniform contact with the glass in the rain. Wipers should be replaced every six to 12 months for optimal performance.

Use headlights. Visibility is usually compromised in rainy conditions. Headlights can help. All states have laws requiring the use of headlights in low visibility, and many states require headlights when wipers are in use.

Keep windows clear. The defroster or air conditioner may help keep windows and mirrors clear.

Be patient. Take it slower than normal. Leave more room when stopping. Wet pavement may cause loss of traction and lead to sliding or hydroplaning.

Go around. Never cross a flooded roadway because it’s tough to tell how deep the water is. Take the time to find an alternate route. The last thing you want is to get caught in a flash flood.

Turn off cruise control. When roads are wet it is best to allow the driver to control speed and react to conditions.

Tips for navigating in the fog

Turn on the low beams and fog lights. Headlights should be on and set to low beam in the fog.

Wait it out. If you’re having trouble seeing, safely pull over to the right side — well out of the traffic lane — and turn on your emergency flashers. Wait until visibility improves before continuing.

Tips for handling your vehicle in high winds

Look out. Keep an eye out for flying debris. And use extra caution near trailers, vans or vehicles carrying lightweight cargo.

Some cars shouldn’t be driven. It’s best not to drive a trailer, van or other “high-profile” vehicle (autos with high centers of gravity like SUVs and trucks) in high winds.

Severe weather driving tipsTurn on headlights and wipers.

Listen to the radio. Tune into a local weather station for storm and traffic updates.

Never try to outrun a tornado. Get out of the car and find shelter. If you can’t reach a safe structure, lie down in a ditch or low area. Stay face down to protect yourself from flying debris, and cover the back of your head and neck with your hands. Stay alert for flash floods.

Don’t wait. Leave low-lying areas and move inland.

Driving in all types of weather

Buckle up. Every trip, every time.

Focus on your destination and avoid distractions.

Emergency kit. Pack and store an emergency kit in your trunk or cargo area with items you could use in the event of a roadside situation.

Recalls. Check to be sure there are no safety recalls on your vehicle.

Special tips for commercial drivers

Watch out for rollovers. Due to their large surface area and high center of gravity, commercial vehicles can be highly susceptible to rolling over in high winds. Be sure to assess safety and weather conditions before you get on the road.

Severe winds. Due to trucks feeling greater impact in high winds, they possess sufficient risk of winds veering them out of their lane of travel in severe weather.

Lost or damaged cargo. If your cargo becomes lost or damaged in severe weather, stop and pull off the road. Contact police to warn and divert traffic to lanes without debris. Remove debris from the road as long as you can do it safely — or wait for police. Place flares near your vehicle to warn oncoming vehicles.

These tips may help ease some anxiety on the road during all kinds of weather. However, the unexpected can still happen. Learn more about how State Farm can help after a crash.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.


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