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Drive Safely in Snow, Rain, Fog, and More

This time of year often comes with unpredictable weather, from the occasional sunny and spring-like day to snow, fog, rain (and freezing rain!), and more. Driving in unpredictable weather creates challenges, especially with conditions making roads slippery and visibility difficult.

Safety Tips for Driving in Unpredictable Weather

Here are some basic safety tips for driving in unpredictable weather.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) says:

“A bit of rain, snow or ice makes roads slippery. Wet leaves can be slippery and hazardous. Reduced speed and increased following distance improve your safety under these conditions.  Take additional care on curves, turns, and expressway ramps.

In heavy rain, your tires can begin to ride on the water that is on top of the road pavement. This “hydroplaning” can cause complete loss of traction and control of steering. Hydroplaning normally occurs at higher speeds, but it also can occur if your tires are tread worn or not inflated properly. When there is heavy rain, it always makes sense to drive more slowly. If your vehicle begins to lose traction, decrease your speed even more. Good tires with deep tread help to prevent hydroplaning.

Rain, fog or snow make it harder to see through your windshield, and difficult for other drivers to see you. If you are driving in weather conditions that require the use of windshield wipers (rain, snow, sleet, fog, etc.), turn on your headlights.

High headlight beams reflect rain, fog, and snow as it falls. This makes it even harder for you to see. For better visibility during these weather conditions, keep your headlights on low beam. Reduce your speed. Signal your turns further ahead of time to give other drivers and roadway users more warning. Brake early when you decrease speed behind another vehicle or come to an intersection stop.

Some vehicles have front fog lights or front and back fog lights, for use when heavy fog or similar hazardous weather conditions restrict visibility. In New York State, all fog lights must be correctly installed and of a type approved by the Commissioner of DMV.  Front fog lights can be amber or white in color. Back fog lights must be red and can be larger than the normal backlights – they will give advance warning of the presence of your vehicle to the drivers behind you. When visibility improves, you can switch off your fog lights to reduce the glare that can bother other drivers.”

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Special Driving Conditions,” shared by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says:

When there’s inclement weather such as snow or rain, drive slowly and leave space between your vehicle and those ahead of you.

If a road is flooded, turn around. “It only takes 12 inches of rushing water to carry away most cars, and just two feet of rushing water can carry away most trucks and SUVs,” according to the NHTSA.

Keep an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle. NHTSA recommends including: “cell phone and charger, first aid kit, flashlight, flares and a white flag, jumper cables, tire pressure gauge, jack and ground mat for changing a tire, basic repair tools, duct tape, water and paper towels, non-persishable food, drinking water, windshield washer fluid, maps, and emergency blankets, towels, and coats.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says:

Wear your seatbelt (always, not just while driving in inclement weather!)

Adjust your speed for the weather conditions. Keep space, and stay alert.

If the light is out at an intersection, treat it as a four-way stop.

Avoid distractions, especially when driving through unpredictable conditions. Avoid eating, drinking, using a cell phone, and other distractions while operating a vehicle.

Explore other blogs from Merchants Insurance Group about Commercial Auto topics such as: why commercial auto insurance is important, safe driving tips, and what to do if you are involved in a collision in a company-owned vehicle.

Looking for new coverage for your commercial vehicle? Merchants Insurance Group offers comprehensive insurance for business vehicles including cars, trucks, and trailers. In addition to traditional coverage for liability and physical damage, Merchants also offers additional optional coverages with increased limits.  Use our Find an Agent tool to locate an independent insurance agent near you!

This blog was last updated on February 23, 2024.

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