The spring storm season typically runs from mid-March through June and this year could be a doozey, especially for car insurance rates. Atmospheric scientists (aka weather experts) are predicting a stormier than usual spring season this year, with above-average activity the swath of Midwestern U.S. states known as Tornado Alley. Any kind of rain can create hazardous driving conditions, but heavy rain, hail and tornados up the danger factor exponentially. Research says that 25% of all car crashes happen during adverse weather conditions, and that most drivers simply don’t adjust for rain-slick roadways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims nearly one million car accidents occur each year because drivers don’t know the difference between driving conditions on wet versus dry roads. Here are some tips to drive safely during storms that can also help you keep your low auto insurance premiums by avoiding claims.
- Slow down and increase the distance between you and the car ahead. Sounds like a no-brainer, but speed is the biggest cause of all car accidents and rain only makes matters worse. Rainy weather impacts visibility, distance, pavement friction, vehicle performance and travel speed.
- Decrease your speed when you’re approaching a flooded section or a big puddle. Hit it too fast, and you’ll throw up a wave of water that totally obscures your vision and that of any drivers around you.
- Avoid sharp braking, fast cornering and rapid acceleration. All of these things can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Under the worst case scenario, you car could hydroplane – losing direct contact with the roadway. If you do hydroplane, do not brake. Instead, experts advise that you take your foot off the gas pedal, shift into neutral, grip the steering wheel and steer in the direction you want to go until you regain control.
- Turn on your lights. In some states including California, you are required by law to do this when it rains.
- Check your tires for tread wear and replace them if necessary. Keep them properly inflated. Replace your windshield wipers once a year to maintain effectiveness.
- Don’t try to make it across a severely flooded roadway unless you want to be on the evening news as the latest rescue or fatality. Take another, safer route.
- Keep your car radio on and pay attention to warnings of hail storms, tornados and other heavy weather.
- If you don’t have to drive, stay home.
- If you are caught in severe storms, pull safely off the road but away from any trees or signs that could be uprooted and blown your way. Turn on your hazard lights and wait it out. If you’re in a hail storm, try to find a sheltered place to stop your car. The exception here would be if you’re caught in a tornado. In that case, experts advise that you get out of your car and seek shelter in a nearby building, a ditch or a low-lying area.