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5 Tips for Dealing with Dangerous Road Conditions

5 Tips for Dealing with Dangerous Road Conditions

Whether you’re heading out on a nice, long road trip or just getting ready to go home from work, dangerous road conditions can strike no matter what season or where you live.

These conditions mean your vehicle poses a threat not just to yourself, but also to other drivers on the road. 

With a little preparation and some careful defensive driving, you can navigate dangerous road conditions as you run into them, keeping yourself and others safer. Here are 5 tips for dealing with dangerous road conditions:

Stop Hydroplaning

When it’s rainy, puddles form on the road and can create barriers between your car’s tires and the road. This is called hydroplaning, and it can prove very dangerous for drivers who don’t know how to deal with it properly.

The chances your car will hydroplane depend greatly on factors such as your speed, the condition of your tires, your tire inflation levels, and the depth of water on the road. 

If you begin to hydroplane, do not brake or accelerate. Take your foot off the brake or gas, keep your eyes in the direction you want to go, and steer your car as steadily as you can.

Deal with Skidding

Ice and snow create a whole different kind of danger: Skidding. This is especially treacherous in the case of black ice, which you can’t see on the road to avoid.

If you find yourself skidding, take your foot off the accelerator. Keep looking and steering in the direction you want to go, just like if you’re hydroplaning.

If you must apply brakes, do so gently. Do not pump your brakes or allow them to lock, as this can create more dangerous conditions.

A word of caution: Anti-lock brake systems do not make skidding any less dangerous. Never trust that your brakes will do all the work and instead continue to carefully navigate the skid.

Beware Airbags

While airbags are designed to protect you in a crash, they also deploy with such force that they can create injuries on their own.

When driving, always adjust your seat so you are at least 10 inches from the airbag, and always wear a seatbelt.

Do not allow young children to sit in the front seat if your airbags cannot be turned off. Because children are smaller, front airbags can hit them in the face or neck, causing serious injury. 

Don’t Swerve for Animals

It may be tempting, especially on an empty road, to swerve to avoid that rabbit hopping across the road, but this can create a bigger problem than hitting the animal would.

Swerving increases the chances that you’ll head into oncoming traffic or hit something more damaging on the side of the road than an animal, such as a telephone pole.

Instead, use your high beams on dark roads whenever possible, as they will help illuminate the animal’s eyes so you can see them better. 

Stay Calm

If you do end up getting stranded, do your best to stay calm and reduce your exposure to the elements.

Stay in your car and, if conditions are cold, cover up with extra blankets or coats if you have them. Call for help and wait in your car, and keep your tailpipe clear of snow.

Keep your car’s emergency kit well-stocked with shelf-stable food, water, and other necessities.

If you’re stranded in a remote area, do not leave your car unless help is visible within about 300 feet. Do not leave your car if it’s dark; only venture out if you’re in broad daylight.

Keep backup power bricks in your car so you can keep your phone charged in case you’re stranded for a while.

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