Every year, we listen to the weather reporter talk about a record setting storm. Most recently we’ve had Hurricane Sandy which left her large mark on the Northeast. And then you always hear about a daring rescue that had to be made because someone decided to try to drive in that weather. Once they are in the safety of their home, they have to call their insurance company to report their damaged car. They probably weren’t thinking about their coverage limits as they were being airlifted out of the river running through the middle of town but insurance companies face a barrage of claims after a bad weather incident happens. To make sure that you don’t have to make that call after the storm has dissipated, there are some precautionary steps you can take.
Different weather conditions call for different driving techniques so it’s best to look at them individually. The most common are fog, rain and snow.
Driving in the Fog
Fog is a silent intruder and can appear right around a corner, seemingly from nowhere. It’s pretty amazing just how much some water condensation can impair your driving but anyone who has had to travel in it will tell you, it can be very dangerous. The worst thing about fog is that it limits your visibility, making it hard to see the actual road in front of you, much less other cars on the road. Be careful when you’re driving because the chance that you might hit something increases greatly and if you aren’t familiar with the road, you may find yourself in the ditch if there’s a sharp turn.
Be sure to use your windshield wipers. Since fog is water condensation, you will notice that after time it may even resemble a light rain on your windshield. You don’t have to constantly leave your wipers but just use them when you need to. One thing that some people may not know is that you should never use your high beams while riding through fog. It can actually decrease visibility but the brighter light will reflect back on your from all the water and create a glare that only adds to the problem at hand. It might seem like a natural reaction, but you should definitely slow down if it’s hard to see. Even if you’re running late, trying to drive the speed limit when you can’t see what’s in front could lead to disaster.
Driving in the Rain
Maybe it’s just a spring storm or you could be weathering a hurricane, driving in the rain should not be taken lightly. Always make sure that you use your windshield wipers and adjust their speed to the right intensity. It’s easy to forget to replace your wiper blades, especially if you live somewhere that is primarily sunny but it’s an important part of regular car maintenance. If you have worn wipers, you might as well just not have them at all. The biggest concern about driving in the rain is that it creates a very slick road surface. Because of this, you should always slow down. On a wet road, stopping at normal speed may take a longer distance and you could find your car resting on someone else’s bumper.
Another major concern with driving on wet roads is hydroplaning. As the rain falls, it can create a layer of standing water on certain parts of the road. These pools are invisible to the driver and when your car rolls over it, your tires have no traction and basically surf over the road. This is no hang ten moment thought. Hydroplaning can send your entire car off the road and when it occurs, you were probably going too fast to begin with. If you damage your car or yourself, you will have to call your insurance company. If the police reported that you were going too fast and that was part of the cause of the accident, your insurance company might look at you as a riskier driver. This could result in higher premiums and you might be crying yourself your own river.
Driving in the Snow and Ice
If you live in a sunny location, it’s not likely you will need this advice but you never know when a freak storm can occur or you move farther north. Winter weather conditions make for some of the most dangerous roads and it can happen very quickly. If temperatures are low enough, the snow and ice are going to stick to the road and make it very, very slick. As more cars drive over the precipitation, it becomes packed down further, creating a layer of ice. Your car is not going to have any traction on an ice covered road and you could easily slip off the road.
If you must drive in a snow storm, there are some things you need to know. Bridges will always freeze before a road so use precaution, especially if it doesn’t look like they have sturdy barriers! If there are other drivers on the road, try to follow in their tracker because that area is going to be melting the fastest and provide the best traction for your tires. Most importantly, go slow! Rushing over the snow and ice is going to increase the potential that you slide and if you are traveling at higher speeds, you will have less control of your vehicle.
Insurance Premiums are Rising
If you have a weather related incident, you will need to report it to your insurance company. They will need to know the circumstances that surround your claim before they can process it. Always make sure you have the minimum amount of coverage to obey the law but it’s a smart idea to buy full coverage because you never know what will happen. Black ice can send you into a ditch but it can also send you down a hill, hitting 8 parked cars in your descent. If you have to get out in bad weather conditions, follow the recommended safety guidelines and maybe you can avoid calling your insurance agent.