Storms and Wet Weather Conditions
ICE AND SNOW
If driving in a winter storm, pay close attention to the road surface and watch for ice. If you drive on black ice, your vehicle may behave unpredictably. To maintain control, avoid slamming on the brakes, take your foot off the gas, and gently steer your car in the direction you want to go.
In a snowstorm, slow down and increase your following distance, because your braking and stopping ability will be diminished. Blizzard or whiteout conditions can be dangerous, and you may have a hard time seeing beyond your windshield. Slow down considerably and turn on all your headlights, including your fog lights if your vehicle is equipped with them, and consider turning on your hazard lights. You want to be as visible as possible.
THUNDER AND LIGHTNING
Most experts caution against going out in a thunderstorm if possible. But sometimes you’re caught in a thunderstorm while on the road. If you can pull over safely, do so. If not, slow down, turn on your lights, and don’t tailgate.
It’s not just rain and snow that impact visibility. Dust and wind storms can seemingly come out of nowhere and make driving very difficult. If you encounter a dust storm while driving, don’t drive into or through it, if possible. The Arizona Department of Transportation recommends safely pulling off the roadway as soon as you can, turning off all your vehicle lights, and staying in the vehicle with your seatbelt on.
Having to drive through a road work zone is fairly common, but it can be a bit unnerving if it’s not immediately clear what you should do. For starters, slow down: speeding causes the majority of work zone crashes. Increase your following distance to the cars in front of you and watch for workers, “flaggers” or signs that will provide directions. Follow all directions of workers and signage and observe the posted speed limit.
Road Debris and Large Objects
You’re driving down the freeway when you spot something huge in the middle of your lane. How should you react, especially if you’re surrounded by traffic? From a certain distance, it’s hard to know if it’s something you can drive over (like a flattened cardboard box or empty plastic bag) or if it’s something that could cause real damage.
Road debris, which often falls out of vehicles because it’s not secured properly, causes an estimated 25,000 crashes a year. Scan for debris as you drive, and change lanes safely if you can. If you have no choice but to drive over an obstacle, slow down to reduce the impact if possible.
A car accident occurs every minute, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and it’s estimated that rubbernecking (staring at a crash while driving by it) causes 10% to 16% of all crashes.
The right way to drive around a crash is by not looking to see what happened, but rather by focusing on the road ahead and the traffic in front of and around you. Be attentive to signs, detours and traffic patterns. If you are a witness to the crash, pull over safely and call 911 immediately.
Animals in the Roadway
Spotting a deer on the side of the road during a scenic drive can be fun, but a deer in the middle of the road is a different story. Large animals, such as deer and elk, can pose a real danger to you and to them if they dart out into the roadway. Watch for signs indicating there are animal crossings, and be sure to maintain a lawful speed and pay a lot of attention in these areas (especially at dawn and dusk).
If you see an animal in the road, slow down and don’t swerve, because that makes you lose control of your vehicle. Do give them a wide berth. If you think you’re going to hit the animal, brake firmly, then release the brake just before impact to reduce the risk of the animal coming through your windshield. Finally, call for help and stay away from the animal if you do hit it.