Safe Driving In Extreme Weather Conditions
Heavy, damaging rains doused the metropolitan area on Tuesday, April 18. The rain fell on the region rapidly, causing dangerous flooding. The torrential rains slowed traffic on I-285 in Dekalb County and flooded parts of the Interstate. A crew dispatched by the Georgia Department of Transporation (GDOT) was tasked with opening a drain on I-285 to ease to flooding on the road.
The crews from GDOT were not the only ones called into action in the middle of the storm. A woman driving during the height of the storm exited I-285 in DeKalb County in the area of Northlake Parkway and then turned on to Crescent Center Parkway. The motorist told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that within six minutes her car was floating down the road and could not control her car. She slammed into another driver who was also trapped in the rising waters. The female driver stated that a man started swimming to her car to help her get out of the car safely. First responders came to the scene and rescued both trapped drivers.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) studies road conditions and offers safe driving advice to the motoring public. AAA recognizes the numerous challenges that face drivers caught in heavy rain. According to AAA, wet roads caused or contribute to 1.2 million car crashes per year. That statistic proves that driving in the rain is difficult and dangerous. Many drivers, regrettably, do not alter their driving habits on wet roads, but they should.
Drivers must watch out for themselves and the other cars around them, as always. However, the reduced visibility caused by heavy rains heightens the dangerous situations in which motorists could find themselves. Poor visibility is one of the primary causes of automobile crashes in the rain. AAA espouses the mantra that when driving in the rain, motorists must "see and be seen."
Safety, AAA claims, begins before the rain starts falling. Therefore, AAA recommends replacing windshield wipers that leave streaks or do not clear the windshield on the first pass. AAA also recommends making sure that all headlights, taillights, and brake lights are fully functional before driving in the rain. Drivers must also use their headlights when they have activated their windshield wipers. Driving with the headlights on makes the car more visible to other drivers, which can be very helpful in downpours.
AAA offers several other tips as well. AAA suggests that good tire maintenance is another critical element of safe driving in the rain. Tires must be filled with sufficient air pressure. Also, tires must have sufficient tread on them. Treads help the car grip the road which prevents skidding and hydroplaning. Tire pressure should be measured before driving while tires are cold. A tire pressure reading taken after the car has been in motion or in warm weather will yield an inaccurate result.
Safe driving in the rain requires the driver to have complete concentration. Therefore, AAA recommends not using cruise control because a driver will have better control over the car if he or she is personally in control over the accelerator. Also, other distractions must be stowed at all times, including bad weather. AAA encourages drivers to slow down in heavy rain. With only 1/12 of an inch of water on the road, a car's tires must displace almost a gallon of water to avoid hydroplaning. Slowing down will keep the tires in contact with the road. Drivers also need to leave more room between themselves and other vehicles because stopping requires longer distances in the rain.
Drivers must remember that even in the worst weather, they have a duty to drive safely at all times. Failing to do so could injure or kill another motorist or pedestrian.
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