Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler April 11, 2017

One of the most important and simplest things you can do while driving in rainy weather is to slow down. Photo by plherrera (iStock by Getty Images)

If April showers bring May flowers, we should brace for wet streets this month and be prepared to drive safely. But safe driving tips in bad Texas weather are important at any time of the year.

For one thing, it’s not all about rain. In southeast San Antonio recently, heavy fog led to several different but related crashes on northbound Interstate 37. Two 18 wheelers and as many as 20 other vehicles were involved. The cause? Fog — and perhaps failure to drive safely in fog.

San Antonio’s massive morning rush-hour pileup happened in the vicinity of I-37 at Old Corpus Christi Road. It shut down the highway for nearly four hours. So even drivers who weren’t in the crash suffered.

Jim Adler & Associates can help drivers protect themselves with the following safe driving tips for bad weather — starting with what to do in case of fog.

Foggy Weather Driving Tips

  • Tap or pump your brakes briefly as you approach fog. This alerts drivers behind you of the need to slow down for limited visibility. Then slow down your own vehicle as you enter the fog.
  • Turn on your vehicle’s fog lights, or if your vehicle lacks them, your low-beam headlights. Fog lights are placed lower to the pavement than headlights, yielding some illumination of the roadway. Fog lights also are yellow, which are easier to spot in fog. (If your vehicle has fog lights, the “on” switch may be connected to your turn-signal lever or may be found on the dashboard.)
  • Decrease speed as you approach the top of foggy hills. If a car is stopped in the roadway on the other side, you might not be able to see it in fog with enough time to brake.

Rainy Weather Driving Tips

  • In rainy weather with wet pavement and reduced visibility, the most important thing you can do is the simplest: slow down. Wet pavement reduces friction between your tires and the road, lowering traction by about one third while extending brake time. So slow down by at least one third as well — from 30 miles an hour to 20 mph, for instance.
  • Slowing down also can lower the risk of your car hydroplaning, or floating out of control atop a thin sheet of water. If you do hydroplane, keep slowing down until you regain traction with the road.
  • Avoid driving in high water. Such water can get sucked into your car’s air intake and then the engine, drowning your engine.
  • Hard rains also can reduce visibility, so keep your windshield wipers set at a high rate and — again — slow down.

Snowy, Icy Weather Driving Tips

We’re months away from any chance of snow or ice on Texas roads, but when it comes, follow the same advice for wet weather — and slow down.

Also avoid tailgating, since you may lack much time to stop when cars in front of you slow down or stop.

In addition, don’t apply your brakes while making a turn in snow or ice. Braking can make your wheels stop turning, which can make your car slide out of control in the direction of your turn.

If you skid in one direction, a natural impulse is to brake and steer in the opposite direction. Don’t. Rather, keep your foot off the brakes and the gas pedal while gently turning the steering wheel into the direction of the skid. This can negate the skid and make your vehicle go straight.

Prepare for Bad Weather

You also can prepare your vehicle for bad weather by checking your tires’ treads to ensure they aren’t worn down; by replacing cracked or otherwise deteriorating windshield wipers; and by cleaning your headlights. Also keep emergency gear such as flares and jumper cables in your trunk, and have a means to charge your cell phone in your car.

Also be wary of other forms of bad weather such as hail, sleet, freezing rain or high winds, as well as glare from the sun and smoke from various sources. Again, slow down and be more cautious.

Keep in mind, as well, that bad weather isn’t necessarily an excuse if you cause a car accident. Though bad weather can contribute to a crash, drivers remain responsible for driving carefully and avoiding accidents in poor conditions.

There — now you have a better chance of avoiding bad-weather accidents. But rain or shine, let’s all be safe and drive to stay alive.

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