If you live in the United States, you know that this winter was not only just extremely cold, but also brought us some of the most extreme weather. Many of us are very excited about springtime being upon us. You know the saying ďApril showers bring May flowers. But showers and flowers are oftern joined by a handful of seasonal driving hazards. This article will provide you with the information of what to avoid. Use the spring driving tips below to get you and your car safely into the summer season.
Why Spring Driving is Dangerous
With winter finally fading into the background and better weather approaching, youíd think that the roads would finally be safe again. Unfortunately, thatís not necessarily the case.
Rainy days and flooding
Spring rain brings slippery road conditions and flooding. According to the Federal Highway Administration, rain was a cause of at least 46 percent of all weather-related crashes from 2002 to 2012, and wet pavement in general accounted for 74 percent of those accidents
What makes rain and wet pavement so dangerous? Slippery roads reduce your car’s handling ability and increase the distance it takes to stop by up to 4 times the normal stopping distance. Big puddles can also cut down on tire traction and can also lead to hydroplaning.
This is the season to beware of hailstorms, particularly if you live in a hail-belt state (Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri). Even small hailstones can shatter windshields, and raining balls of ice are never good for the roads (or anybody, really).
Winter road wear and tear
In many states, winter wreaks havoc on the roads. Snow plows, salt, sand, and the aftermath of ice can all leave roads a bit battered. Once snow melts away, expect to drive over new potholes. The eastern states are prone to severe potholes, which often cause tire damage and accidents, as well as other mechanical issues such as wheel alignment, engine or transmission issues. Be careful to avoid potholes as much as possible, although in some areas, its virtually impossible.
Wild animals become incredibly active during the spring. Some of these animals are emerging from hibernation, and others are entering mating season. This could mean that more animals are crossing streets and roaming around. Many animals, especially deer, are most active at dawn or dusk. If youíve never hit a deer, you are extremely lucky, as deer can cause a lot of damage to your vehicle. If you are driving in an area that is particularly prone to animal activity, use all precautions while driving.
Each spring and summer, millions of wild baby animals in the United States are orphaned or injured due to collisions with cars, reports the nonprofit Wildlife in Crisis, Inc. After a hard rain, frogs and toads also flock to the road, bringing with them both mammals and birds looking for a delicious meal of dead frogs and worms. To avoid running into wildlife on the road, be especially careful during dawn and dusk. Both nocturnal and diurnal animals are most active at this time. If you see an animal near the side of the road, slow down and beep your horn. Whatís more, donít litter! Littering needlessly attracts hungry animals to the roadside. Plus, you could receive a hefty fine for littering in most states.
Watch out for Pedestrians!
Warm weather means more people will be outside walking. The same year, 4,432 people were killed in pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When turning at an intersection, watch out for pedestrians in or near the crosswalk. Not all pedestrians pay attention when crossing the road. Some are texting and others are talking on their phones. We all know thereís such a thing as distracted driving, but distracted walking is now a big hazard too. Pay attention to these pedestrians. They may or may not obey the crosswalk sign.
More bicycles on the road
Just as youíve been waiting to get out of the house, bikers have been waiting to do so too. Now that the weather is getting better, cyclists will also start coming out of hibernation. Sharing the road with cyclists can make traffic a little trickier, as cyclists try to maneuver around cars, making driving a little more dangerous for all. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, 677 bicyclists lost their lives in bicycle/motor vehicle crashes in 2011.
Spring does brings flowers and more birds chirping, but it also showers and snowmelt. According to Ready.gov, floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States today. Flash floods can occur quickly and without warning. They can be brought on by heavy rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam.
If you see water flowing across the roadway, do not that assume you can cross it! The water could be much deeper than you think, could sweep your car away, or cause you to hydroplane. If the bottom of the road isnít visible, you donít know what could be waiting for your tires under there. There could be a giant pothole, construction debris, or nothing at all. Just in case, try to avoid driving through standing water.
Spring driving safety tips
Check your lights: Since spring rain hinders driving visibility, make sure all your lights work, including headlights, taillights, backup lights, turn signals, parking lights, and brake lights.
Replace your wiper blades: Worn-out wiper blades may not be up to the task of clearing water away from your windshield. Check your wiper blades and replace them if necessary (usually once a year).
Check your tire pressure: Harsh winter weather can deflate your tires. Make sure you have enough air in them once spring rolls around. (As a bonus, proper tire pressure can also help you increase your mpg.)
Slow down and drive carefully: The first few rainy days of spring can produce exceptionally slippery roads due to oil and other leaked fluids mixing with rainwater, so slow down and increase your stopping distance when it’s raining.
Keep your eyes peeled for bad road conditions: Remember that harsh winter weather breeds potholes and other driving obstacles.
Watch out for animals: This is especially important during the early morning and evening when animals are most active.
Seasonal showers, migrating animals, and poor road conditions can create unpleasant complications out on the road.
Spring is a great time for road trips, picnics, and outdoor sports. By all means, get out there and enjoy the weather, but be safe doing it. You could save an animalís life, save your car from a catastrophe, and even save on your low cost car insurance if you can avoid filing a claim. Whatever you choose to do this spring, have fun. If you pay attention to the things around you and remember these tips you can avoid a serious disaster and get you and your car into the summer season safely.