North Texans finally got a taste of winter weather over the past two days when the rain that fell Sunday night froze leaving our streets covered with a half inch of ice. Snow is in the forecast for Wednesday morning which complicates rush hour traffic. We don’t get this weather very often, but it does provide an excellent backdrop to review safe driving practices in all kinds of inclement weather.
Ice and Snow: Cars take longer to stop and don’t corner as well when our roadways have ice or snow on them. In order to avoid rear ending someone or sliding into another object, slow down, put some space between you and the driver in front of you, and give yourself time to stop, make a turn, change lanes, and drive through a curve. Avoid slamming on your brakes if you don’t have anti-lock brakes, and remember to keep your foot on the brake pedal if you do.
Keep in mind, water freezes more quickly on our bridges and overpasses, so be especially careful on those. Our temperature may have risen above freezing on Tuesday, but temperatures are falling below freezing overnight. What was water on the way home last night may be ice on the way to work in the morning.
Rain: Driving in rain, especially heavy rain, create puddles and standing water on our highways and roads, both of which cause hydroplaning. Slow down when making turns or driving around curves, and give yourself room to stop. Cars can hydroplane in less than a half inch of water so adjust your speed according. Never cross a flooded roadway. It only takes a few inches of fast moving water to push a car off the road and two feet of water will float a 3,000 pound car.
Construction Zones: There’s been a lot of road construction in north Texas and more is on the way. According to the Texas Department of Transportation there are about 15,000 crashes and more than 100 people are killed each year in highway construction and maintenance zones. The two most common causes of fatalities are speeding and inattentive driving, so pay attention to changing driving conditions, lane changes, construction equipment, stopped traffic, and workers.
Every Day Driving Habits: It’s better to avoid an accident than survive one. These everyday driving habits can help you do just that, regardless of the weather or road conditions:
- Turn your lights on even during the day so other drivers can see you
- Put the phone away – texting or talking on the phone take our attention away from what we should be doing
- Avoid all other tasks while driving including reading, applying makeup, etc.
- Watch your speed, it’s easy to go with the flow only to find the flow has stopped suddenly
- Everyone in the car needs to wear their seatbelt – they really do save lives
- Follow the rules of the road including all signs (stop, yield, etc.) and lights
- Move over a lane or slow down for vehicles on the side of the road
Most of these safe driving practices are common sense. If each of us use them daily Texas roads and highways will be safer because of it. What suggestions do you have? Share them with us on our Google +, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!