Staying Safe in Severe Weather
Bad weather is one of the main causes of car accidents. Thousands of people are severely injured each year due to severe weather conditions. Most people don’t have extensive experience driving in bad weather such as hurricanes, sleet, tornado-like winds, and flooding. The first thing to remember is always to turn around and drive away from severe weather to prevent injury, damages, or delays.
Rain and Road Conditions
The heavier the rain becomes, the more likely a car will hydroplane and lose control. While driving in the rain, it is recommended to slow down, do not rely on cruise control, turn on your lights, and stay focused. Louisiana is expecting high winds and scattered thunderstorms throughout this week. This combination of weather conditions can lead to traffic jams, car accidents, and injury. It is important to stay focused and alert when your vision is limited because of weather. Speeding can also increase your chances of losing control and being involved in an accident. According to the Federal Highway Administration, rain impacts drivers in the following ways:
- Vehicle performance (e.g., traction)
- Driver capabilities/behavior
- Road treatment strategy
- Traffic signal timing
- Speed limit control
All of these can influence your ability to react and make educated decisions on how to proceed when encountering severe weather. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 1,259,000 accidents, or 22% of all car crashes, are due to weather. Nearly 6,000 people are killed, and over 445,000 people are injured in weather-related crashes each year.
Before driving long distances, make sure to check the weather forecast for the route you will be taking to see if you need to reroute your trip. Never go out into severe weather including rain, sleet, snow and wind unless it is an emergency. Keep an emergency safety kit in your car that includes water, a charged cell phone, a rain poncho, gloves, a warm blanket, and other important materials. It never hurts to restock or revamp your emergency kit to be better prepared.