Motorists urged to take care when driving during severe weather
Severe weather is anticipated for west, central and southwest Florida; as well as the Florida Pan Handle. AAA warns motorists to be careful. Strong winds, heavy downpours and the threat of tornados are creating dangerous driving conditions.
The most important thing to remember is to slow down. It is very easy for drivers to lose control of their vehicle during adverse weather conditions. Nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes occur each year on wet pavement with more than a half million injuries and 5,700 deaths, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Drivers should heed official warnings and avoid driving on wet and flooded roads if able,” said Montrae Waiters, AAA spokeswoman, The Auto Club Group. “Driving through standing water is especially dangerous, because you never know just how deep the water is or what you are driving over.”
In the event a vehicle shuts down while in standing water, do not try to restart it. Restarting a vehicle in standing water can cause more water to enter the engine and could cost thousands of dollars to repair.
* * * Tips for Driving on Wet Roads
* Turn on your headlights: Even if it is daylight, drivers should turn-on their headlights when it is raining. This helps other motorists see you when visibility reduces from the rain.
* Check Tires: Make sure tires are properly inflated and have enough tread depth. This will allow the vehicle to have better traction and maneuverability on the road. Worn tires with little tread are much more likely to hydroplane on wet pavement, resulting in a loss of braking power and steering control. Check the tread depth of your car’s tires by inserting a quarter upside down into a tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head at any point, it’s time for new tires.
* Avoid Cruise Control: This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car’s speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.
* Slow Down and Leave Room: Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car’s chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a layer of water. With as little as inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway. Also, it is important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them and beginning to slow down to stop for intersections, turns and other traffic early.
* Avoid Standing Water and Flooded Roads at all Times: There is no way to tell how deep standing water is on a flooded road and driving through it can cause a vehicle to stall and result in severe damage to the vehicle from:
Flooding the engine
Warping brake rotors
Loss of power steering
Short in electrical components
* Do NOT drive with hazard lights on: This is a common error many drivers make while driving in the rain in an attempt to help be seen. However, hazard lights are supposed to be used by vehicles that are disabled on the side of the road. Turning on your hazards while driving can confuse approaching motorists and cause a crash. Because of this, driving with hazard lights is illegal in some states, including Florida.