It’s natural to feel your spirits beginning to lift as the weather improves in the springtime. The days are warmer and longer, and we’re all starting to get spring fever. At the same time, it’s important to rein in the excitement when you’re on the roads.
Did you know that spring is one of the most dangerous times for weather-related car accidents?
There is a lot that goes into that designation. First of all, there can be leftover damage to the roads from wintertime. That can mean potholes that could seriously damage your car. At the same time, spring weather can be nearly as dangerous as winter weather, with rain, slippery conditions and flooding.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, rain is involved in about 46% of all weather-related crashes. Wet pavement is involved in about 73%.
Rain and wet pavement are dangerous because they cut down on traction between your tires and the road. Your car can handle differently in rain and it can take up to four times the normal distance to stop. You can hydroplane, where a layer of water gets between your tires and the ground, making it even harder to stop.
Flooding can be a serious danger, too. If you drive into too much water, it can disable your car or even sweep it away. A flooded road can also hide dangers like potholes and debris. It’s never advisable to drive into water when you can’t see the bottom or if the water could reach your tailpipe.
Spring also brings with it the danger of hail. These can crack or shatter your windshield or just cause a tremendous amount of distraction.
Even as the weather can interfere with safety in the springtime, but we also have more to watch for on the roadways. Bicyclists and motorcyclists come out of hibernation and hit the roads. You’ll need to watch for them at every point in your drive, but especially when parking or making a right-hand turn. Look left, then right, then left again.
Animal activity explodes in the springtime. As animals come out of their winter dens and begin mating, we will see lots more on the roadways, especially around dawn and dusk. Be prepared for everything from deer and fox kits to alligators crossing the road.
Here are three quick safety tips for spring driving:
- Do a general check of your car. Check all of the lights, including backup lights, parking lights and turn signals. Consider replacing your wiper blades. Check your tire pressure, as this can help you deal with potholes and obstacles.
- Slow down during bad weather. Even just a little rain can cause slippery conditions as the water mixes with oil and other fluids on the roadway. Drive carefully and increase your stopping distance.
- Watch out for motorcyclists, bikers, pedestrians, bad road conditions, and animals on the road.
It’s all too easy to get excited by the prospect of spring weather and forget that the weather change comes with roadway dangers. Keep your eyes on the road and stay safe.