You know you’re a good driver—but others? Not so much. Car accidents more than double in hazardous weather conditions, so it’s good to be prepared.
Driving with common sense is only secondary to having a car that can hold up to Mother Nature on the road. If you aren’t regularly maintaining your vehicle to keep it operating at its peak performance, you’re making a big mistake. Consider the following maintenance tips before you get on the road:
<strong>Tires:</strong> Properly inflated tires with a good amount of tread on them will keep you safe in hard rains and floods, and hopefully keep you from hydroplaning. Having your wheels properly aligned and balanced is also a must. Need new tires? Don't wait! Sure, they cost money and we're all looking to save where we can, but stores have sales all the time. Good tires can mean the different between life and death — both yours, and possibly someone else's as well.
<strong>Brakes:</strong> If you don’t have ABS brakes and you find yourself skidding through water, pump your brakes until your tires can find even footing again. Always change out brakes pads at the suggested manufacturer’s intervals. If you hear them groaning, get them changed ASAP.
<strong>Battery:</strong> The timeline on how long your factory-installed battery will last depends on the make and model of your car. Every time you bring your car in for maintenance the battery should be checked. If you consistently notice a delay or sputtering when you turn on your ignition, it’s probably time to change out that battery. Keeping jumper cables in your trunk during bad weather is also a good idea.
<h2>Other Helpful Tips</h2>
One of the most important parts of driving is to be visible! Make sure you can see your surroundings and that other cars can see you. This means keeping your headlights clean, your windshield defrosted, and your wiper blades in good working condition.
Next, slow down! You shouldn’t be speeding under the best conditions, but racing on the freeway, tailgating other cars in front of you, or weaving in and out of lanes is a death wish during or directly after a storm.
If you have advanced warning of a storm coming, stay home! If that’s not option, do your best to avoid power lines, trees, or any other items that could fall onto your car or cause you to crash. Bring a fully charged cell phone, weather-proof clothing, a map, flashlight, food, and water. Keep your radio tuned to an emergency weather station so you can be alerted of a flash flood, tornado, or other car accidents along your route.
Finally, remember to wear your seat belt. It could save your life. Also, consider purchasing a AAA membership. For under $50 a year, it can come to your rescue for just about any vehicle issue, including running out of gas or locking your keys in the car.
Use extra caution and common sense driving through hazardous weather conditions, and follow the tips above so you can make it to your destination safely.