Preparing for hazardous weather is essential for responsible and safe drivers. Getting the right gear, adopting a healthy mindset, and familiarizing yourself with the best practical tips to stay safe are all vital steps.
Discover important tips on driving in rainy and snowy conditions in this guide — and check how prepared you are for fall and winter!
Top Tips for Driving in the Rain
Driving in the rain comes with challenges, whether you’re dealing with a light drizzle or a heavy downpour. Rain reduces your visibility and your traction. Hydroplaning, a situation where your tires lose grip on the road and slide over the water instead, is another major risk.
The practical steps you can take to prepare your vehicle for rainy weather include:
- Ensuring your tires are in good condition, with enough thread.
- Checking if your tires are inflated properly.
- Testing your windshield wipers.
- Adding a water repellent to your windshield.
- Using your defroster to prevent fogging and increase visibility.
Your mindset is just as important, though! You can reduce your risk of accidents by following these essential safety tips in the rain:
- Increase your following distance to at least five seconds because rainy weather increases your stopping distance.
- Slow down! Make up for reduced traction by driving at lower speeds.
- Do everything more slowly and gently than you normally would to keep control of your car.
- Use your headlights to make your vehicle more visible to other drivers and to increase your visibility.
- Don’t drive through puddles if you can’t see the bottom — you don’t know what could be lurking underneath.
Finally, only drive in rainy weather if you’re fully rested, especially if you’re an inexperienced driver. You’ll need to focus, and fatigue reduces your reaction time.
Important Reminders for Driving in the Snow
Snow is associated with some of the same risks as rain — reduced visibility, traction, and stopping distance. In addition, you may also face snowdrifts and snowbanks that can obstruct your view, as well as slippery conditions. If you were to break down in extremely cold temperatures, you also run the risk of hypothermia and even frostbite.
Start by getting your car ready for the snow:
- Winterize your vehicle by adding winter-ready wiper fluid, getting new wiper blades if needed, and checking if your heater and defroster are in good working order. A trusted mechanic can, of course, do all of these things for you.
- Invest in winter tires and chains. Snow tires are superior to all-season tires if you live in a region with heavy snowfall.
- Add a first-aid and emergency kit in case you break down. Always include a warm blanket and sand to give you traction if you get stuck. Take lots of water and some MREs or snacks if you’re driving in remote areas, and always carry a flashlight.
- Put a shovel in your trunk, too.
Once your car is ready for winter, you should make sure you are, too. Driving in the snow requires you to:
- Drive and accelerate slowly and carefully.
- Look out for snowplows and let them pass.
- Focus on the road and any unexpected hazards you may come across.
- Maintain your speed, and don’t stop unless you have to — this can make your car fishtail. Don’t stop while driving uphill.
- Make sure you’re fully rested.
- Trust your gut. If you think weather conditions are too dangerous to drive, you’re probably right.
Safe driving should always be your top priority, but hazardous weather conditions are called hazardous for a reason. Not all your fellow road users will be as careful as you are, and you can always face unexpected dangers. Make sure you have good insurance before you drive in the rain or snow, too!
Above all, don’t panic. Stay calm and remember your safety tips, then think on your feet as you brave the elements.
Good luck, and stay safe!