by Christie Stock, president, Discount Tire
Old Man Winter is starting to lose his grip, and soon spring shall make her graceful entrance. With better weather all around, you may think the roads are safe again. However, this line of thinking is not entirely true.
Spring rain brings slippery road conditions and sometimes flooding. In fact, rain was the cause of 46 percent of all weather-related crashes from 2002 to 2012, and wet pavement, in general, accounted for 74 percent, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration.
What makes rain and wet pavement so dangerous? First, slippery roads reduce your vehicle’s handling and increase the distance it takes to stop (up to four times normal stopping distance). Big puddles can also cut down on tire traction and could lead to hydroplaning.
Here are some tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe:
- Check your lights. Since spring rain hinders driving visibility, make sure all your lights work, including headlights, taillights, backup lights, turn signals, parking lights and brake lights.
- Replace your wiper blades. Worn-out wiper blades may not be up to the task of clearing water away from your windshield. Check your wiper blades and replace them if necessary (usually once a year).
- Check your tire pressure. Harsh winter weather can deflate your tires. Make sure you have enough air in them once spring rolls around. (As a bonus, proper tire pressure can also help increase fuel efficiency.)
- Slow down and drive carefully. The first few rainy days of spring can produce very slippery roads due to oil and other leaked fluids mixed with rainwater. Slow down to increase your stopping distance when it’s raining.
- Keep your eyes peeled for bad road conditions. Remember that harsh winter weather creates potholes and other driving obstacles.
- Watch for animals. This is especially important during the early morning and evening when animals are most active.