Ohio is no stranger to difficult driving conditions, particular in the winter months. However, snow and ice are not the only dangerous weather conditions that can create a hazard on the roads. The recent flooding our area has experienced is something of which many drivers are not accustomed to dealing with and can quickly turn a routine errand into a dangerous exercise of one’s emergency driving skills. The storms have already created waterways that have covered area roads and highways, often quickly overtaking cars that are in the way, and more than just one major roadway has already had to be closed due to the flooded conditions. Despite warnings issued by weathermen about the dangers of attempting to drive through deep water, people continue to ignore the warnings and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of all of the drownings associated with floods are a result of driving in flood water.
The Shallow End Is Hazardous, Too
Even if roads are not actually to the point of being flooded, roads that have just a thin film of water on them can be just as dangerous as when higher water is present. Staying safe on wet roads requires extra attention to various factors; many of which must be addressed before the rain ever begins to fall. In preparation for wet weather, drivers should check their wipers, tires, lights, and signals to ensure everything is in working order. Keeping yourself and others safe in less than desirable driving conditions requires everyone to be able to see each other and react properly if circumstances call for quick action; wipers should work properly to clear the water from your windshield, tires must have enough tread to lessen chances of lost traction and the dangers that go along with loss of control, lights help you see others – and others to see you, and properly working signals help everyone know what everyone else is doing.
Once you have gotten out on the wet roads, your obligation to take precautions and your commitment to keeping everyone safe should not end – in fact, it is just beginning. Safety tips while driving in wet weather include:
- Slow down and keep speed under control
- Do not tailgate – give everyone plenty of room! This allows for extra stopping time and also helps to keep you out of the spray created by larger vehicles
- Do not drive along the edges of the road where pooling tends to occur
- Do not attempt to brake too quickly, as this can cause you to lose control
- Avoid driving through moving or deep water
- Take an additional measure of safety after dark – the combined diminished visibility of driving at night in the rain can overwhelm even the most experienced driver
The Importance of Tire Maintenance
Your car’s tires are much like your home’s foundation – everything rests on them. If they are not safe, your entire car is not safe, including your passengers. Keeping your tires in good repair is an effort that can make all the difference when driving in bad conditions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s guidelines for tire safety include many common sense pieces of advice that we all already know, but of which we often need to be reminded:
- Check tire pressure regularly and keep tires properly inflated;
- Make sure your tires are in good repair and are not wearing unevenly;
- Ensure that your tread is still a safe depth;
- Do not overload your vehicle – this forces the tires to carry more weight than they are made for;
- Avoid potholes or other debris in the road; and
- Avoid hitting curbs.
Even when you have taken all the proper safety precautions, there may be times when the conditions cause you to skid or hydroplane on the wet roads. This is, understandably so, one of the scariest things that you may experience – losing control of your vehicle. Knowing how to prevent this dangerous event from happening in the first place – or knowing how to react if you should find yourself in this frightening situation – is important to help minimize the chances of being in an accident.
Hydroplaning – the Causes and Coping Mechanisms
Hydroplaning is a fancy word for skidding on wet roads and losing control of your vehicle. When roads are even slightly wet, a thin layer of moisture forms that can prevent your vehicle’s tires from being able to stay in contact with the road surface. Instead of having any traction at all – even when there are no issues with tread depth or tire maintenance – the tires just glide across the surface. When this happens, you lose control of your vehicle and it’s various functions. It is nearly impossible to control your speed, brake, or even steer your car until you regain control. Until you are able to bring your vehicle under control, anything could happen, including accidents. Avoiding hydroplaning from occurring should be high on the list of priorities for anyone driving on wet roads; the chances are lessened by following the tire maintenance and wet driving safety tips discussed previously. If you do begin to hydroplane, however, do not panic. Remain calm and follow a few basic steps to help you to regain control of your vehicle:
- Do not brake – if you feel you must try to brake, do not jam on the brakes. Short pumping action is much less likely to throw your vehicle into a skid.
- Do not turn the wheel quickly – hold the wheel steady to avoid making the skid worse.
Your Source For Professional Legal Representation – The Ohio Car Accident Lawyers
Accidents are often unavoidable, but knowing how to handle the events afterwards is something within your control. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident and have suffered injuries as a result, you need help to recover for your losses. The dedicated Cleveland auto accident legal professionals at the Ohio Car Accident Lawyers are here to help ensure you obtain the best possible recovery. Your experienced attorney will review your case with you during your initial consultation and will help you to understand your rights and responsibilities under Ohio law. We will work with you for the duration of your legal matter and make sure nothing is overlooked. You can trust us to have your best interests in mind from start to finish. Contact the Ohio Car Accident Lawyers right away and get started with your free consultation today.