Virginia in The Winter – How to Drive Safely in Bad Weather

by admin on April 26, 2013

Driving Safely In Winter Weather
Virginia is one of those states unlucky enough to get the worst of both worlds—sweltering hot summers and icy cold winters. This makes driving a constant challenge. The Department of Motor Vehicles offers some sage advice for when Mother Nature is acting up, and by following this handy guide to driving in hazardous conditions, you’ll keep yourself—and everyone around you—much safer.

SAFE DRIVING IN THE RAIN

The first half hour of a rainstorm is the most dangerous time. The falling water lifts oils out of the asphalt, creating a very slippery surface. This window is when the majority of rain-related accidents occur.

When the rain is light, you may want to resist the urge to turn on your windshield wipers. The wipers could wind up just smearing the water across your windshield, making it even more difficult to see. If your visibility isn’t impaired by the light rain, it’s acceptable to just drive without the wipers.

A heavy rainstorm, though, can reduce your car’s visibility to near-zero. If the wind is blowing at the same time, it can be even worse. Not only is it difficult to see in front of you, but your blind spots can be even blind-er (blind-spottier?). Drive slowly, and make sure to turn your headlights on. Not only does this help you see, but it helps other cars see you.

SEEING THROUGH THE FOG

The biggest problem with fog is that your visibility is hampered. If it’s thick fog, it can be very difficult to see more than a few yards in front of you. Obviously, it’s best to put off any driving until the thick fog rolls past, but if you have to drive through it, there are a few things you should know. First, do not use your high-beams. It may be your first instinct to increase your visibility, but fog actually reflects light, and can bounce your own headlights back at you.

If you cannot see, try to use markings on the edge of the road to guide you. And, obviously, slow way down. Fog will affect your ability to gauge distance.

DRIVE SLOW IN THE SNOW

When driving in the snow, you must take extra precaution. Be sure to remove all snow and ice from your car before you start driving. Anything that’s left on the roof or hood can fall off as you drive, and can create a hazard for any motorists behind you.

If conditions are snowy, make sure your vehicle has snow chains, or all-weather tires, to ensure you can get traction. This will prevent skidding and drifting, and will drastically reduce the amount of distance you need to come to a complete stop.

If the snow is packed, it will feel like you’re driving—or gliding—on ice. To counteract the gliding sensation, gently apply the brakes—your car will have the most traction when the front wheels are rolling, and it will respond to your steering much more effectively. If at all possible, slow the car down before any stops or turns.

In poor weather conditions, be especially careful for ice on bridges. Even if there is no ice on the road, bridges will freeze up easier.

If you’re a new driver, or just inexperienced in driving through hazardous conditions, consider enrolling in an online Virginia driver improvement course. Learning about the various obstacles you could encounter on the road is a smart way to keep safe when they do occur.


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