Driving in Hazardous Conditions
Driving your vehicle in hazardous conditions, such as snow, heavy rain, or thick fog, is a matter of preparation, practice, and driving with caution. Heavy rains and snowy conditions contribute to accidents by causing reduced visibility and slippery driving conditions. While accidents during hazardous conditions may not always be preventable, there are precautions that can be taken to help prevent them:
- Be prepared. Pack tire chains for travel through snowy conditions, keep your mobile phone charged, and keep a first aid kit in your trunk.
- Slow down and keeping a safe distance between yourself and the drivers in front of you.
- You can prevent skids by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves. Do not brake hard or lock the wheels and risk a skid. Maintain mild pressure on the brake pedal.
- If you do find yourself in a skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas, and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. For cars without anti-lock brakes, avoid using your brakes. If your car has ABS, brake firmly as you steer into the skid.
- Avoid hydroplaning by keeping your tires inflated correctly and maintaining good tire tread.
- If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake or turn suddenly. Ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the road again. If you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping actions. However, if your car has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally. The car’s computer will automatically pump the brakes much more effectively than a person can do.
- Remember: A defensive driver adjusts his or her speed to the wet road conditions in time to avoid having to use any of these measures.
Tips for West Virginia Teens & Parents
Studies show teen involved crashes are most likely a result of inexperience and risk-taking rather than misinformation about the basic rules of the road or safe driving practices. Young drivers, particularly 16- and 17-year-olds, have high fatal crash rates because of limited driving experience and immaturity that often results in high-risk behavior behind the wheel. West Virginia follows the graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, a licensing system that prolongs the learning process for young novice drivers, to give young drivers more time to learn the complex skills required to operate a vehicle under less risky circumstances. For new drivers, every bit of practice helps. As long as you have at least the required permit to drive while accompanied by an adult, it’s important to keep practicing and honing your driving skills. There are several ways you can practice driving:
- Ask an adult to accompany you to the mall.
- Offer to drive your mom to the grocery store.
- Volunteer to take your younger brother to baseball practice.
- Pay close attention to your driving habits as you drive home from school.
- Try to drive in as many weather and road conditions as much as your parents’ stomachs can handle.
Teens should never disregard the advice they receive from more experienced drivers. The following tips should be taken into consideration when practicing to become a responsible, safe driver:
- Pay attention to safety belt laws.
- Inspect your vehicle before you get into the car, and adjust your seat and mirror before you take off.
- Follow the rules, including speed limits, traffic lights, traffic signs, and turn signals.
- Always have some way to contact your parents in the event of an emergency.
- Pay attention to other vehicles around you.
- Pay attention to weather and road conditions.
- Keep your vehicle up-to-date with regular maintenance.
- Remember, when the car is in motion it’s time to concentrate.
Always remember that driving is a privilege, and like all privileges it can be taken away when abused.
Avoiding Distractions while Driving
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drivers are distracted by secondary activities 30% of the time while driving. Whether eating, smoking, drinking, talking, or fiddling with any of the dozens of electronic gadgets in the car, this behavior can be dangerous. Studies have shown that 80% of crashes and 65% of near-crashes involve some form of driver distraction that reduces driving safety. There are different types of distractions and learning to deal with them can be different depending on where the distraction originates.
- Cognitive Distraction – Being lost in thought is like mentally checking out and this distracts you when driving. When you catch your attention drifting away, try to refocus by pulling over and stretching your legs, taking a few deep breaths, or talking yourself back in to focus.
- Visual Distraction – Changing the radio station, adjusting mirrors, talking on the phone, or digging around in the glove box are all forms of visual distraction. Keep your eyes on the road so you stay in your lane and improve reaction time.
- Auditory Distraction – Noises and sounds within your vehicle can distract you. Silence the sources, such as your cell phone, navigational system, or radio, if they are impairing your focus on driving.
Driving at Night
According to the National Safety Council, vehicle death rates at night are three times higher than during the day. This is an especially disconcerting statistic considering fewer drivers occupy the roads after dusk. Almost 90% of a driver’s reaction depends on vision and without sunlight, depth perception, peripheral vision, and color recognition are greatly impaired. Fortunately, there are many precautions you can take to heighten your driving safety:
- Make sure your headlights are properly aligned.
- Wipe windshield’s interior to eliminate glare.
- Use low beams when driving through fog.
- Maintain a greater-than-normal distance from the car in front of you because distances are more difficult to gauge at night.
- Don’t ignore eye fatigue. Make frequent stops and brisk walks, or pull into a rest area and for a nap during long drives.
- To avoid glare from oncoming traffic, focus eyes on the right edge of the road.
- Switch to low beams when you’re behind someone so you don’t blind them.
- Perform regular maintenance checks to make sure that all signal and brake lights are functioning properly.
Were you a victim of unsafe driving practices?
If you have been the victim of an accident at the fault of another due to their unsafe driving practices it is important that you contact an attorney immediately. The car accident attorneys at Colombo Law, represent clients throughout West Virginia. Our firm offers free initial consultations on car accident cases. The accident lawyers at Colombo Law are aggressive, responsible and caring. We put the client first in everything we do. If you or a family member has been injured in a car crash, please contact our car accident lawyers for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys can be reached at 304-599-4229, or by e-mail.