Driving in bad weather conditions is challenging and dangerous, not just for novice drivers but even for the most experienced ones amongst us. In addition to being careful and not making any mistakes, one also has to account for mistakes that other drivers might make. Furthermore, because of the unpredictability of the weather, even if you follow all the rules and take all the necessary precautions, you may still end up in a sticky situation through no fault of your own. While it is best to avoid driving in harsh weather conditions, sometimes you may not have a choice. Don’t worry, though; we’ve got you covered. Here are a few tips to remember before driving through harsh weather conditions.
Plan Your Journey
Before you head out, you must check the weather forecast. You should check the weather forecast of not just your current location, but at different points across your route. If there is a possibility of the weather conditions becoming too harsh, you should try to map out an alternate route that lets you avoid the worst of it. You should also consider the fact that driving in harsh weather conditions will take longer than usual and you must set out with ample time to spare to avoid any unnecessary rush later on during the trip.
Check Your Vehicle
While driving in harsh weather you are going to need all the help you can get. All the equipment of your vehicle should be in working order. If the weather is rainy or it is snowing outside, it is essential that your tires be in a good condition and the treads should not be worn out. Without a good set of tires, it would be hard to find sufficient grip on the road. Your headlights, fog lamps, brake lights, turn indicators, tail lamps, and windshield wipers should all be working. While during daily use the regular lights are operated frequently and you would generally be aware of their condition, you don’t want to be in for a nasty shock when trying to use the fog lamps. If you are driving in heavy snow, you should also have a snow chain.
Practice Defensive Driving
Defensive driving is not just about being careful and avoiding mistakes, but also about catering to those made by others. While driving in harsh weather conditions, the first thing to ensure is that you drive slow. Legally, you need to be at least below the speed limit. But sticking to the speed limit may not be enough. You need to drive at a speed at which you are perfectly in control of the vehicle, especially when it is raining or snowing as aquaplaning can occur at surprisingly low speeds.
You also need to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you. This is because the application of brakes suffers in poor weather conditions. But at the same time, you also need to maintain a safe distance from the car behind you and that is just as important.
Stop If You Need to
If the weather becomes too harsh, you should find a safe spot to park in and wait it out. If you start well in time, even a short halt during your journey would not cause any delays. You should also be aware that harsh weather can damage your car. A hail storm can damage the bodywork of your car and crack your windshield. If such a situation does present itself, the Canada-based specialists at Pdrcanada.ca explain that the damage to your car can easily be fixed; it is your safety in such a situation that should take priority. Even if you are falling behind schedule, safety comes first and you should stop for as long as it is necessary.
Avoid Braking During a Turn
The friction available at the contact between the tires and the road is limited. During a turn, the friction available gets distributed in the lateral and longitudinal direction and the grip available to your car in the two directions is interdependent. If you brake too hard while executing a turn you run the risk of using up too much of the available grip for braking, not leaving your tires enough grip to execute the turn. This can cause the vehicle to spin out during a turn. Knowing how to countersteer can help you out in such a situation. While this is true even in good driving conditions, the amount of friction a dry road offers is significantly higher and you have a higher threshold to play with.
When the road is wet, there is snow, or god forbid, ice formation, there is a higher possibility of spinning out. Always brake before entering the turn and gradually accelerate when you have almost negotiated the turn.
Driving in harsh weather can be tricky, but if you are careful, take all the necessary precautions, and practice defensive driving, your journey can safely arrive at your destination. If the weather gets out of hand, there is no point in taking the risk; it is always better to wait it out. But if you have to head out, make sure you take all the necessary precautions and stick to the speed limit.