Spring Driving Tips for Safety on the Road
Spring brings longer days, more sunshine and beautiful blooms. The icy-slick roads of winter are melting and everything feels fresh and new. But now isn’t the time to let your guard down on the road, spring brings its own driving complications. The following driving tips help you enjoy the ride and make sure you arrive at your destination safely.
Watch for ice. While spring feels warm and wonderful, it’s not a guarantee that all of the ice is gone. Keep your winter wits about you and drive as if the roads are icy: maintain a safe distance, approach intersections cautiously and drive slowly when the roads appear wet.
Look for leftover sand and salt. Many towns use sand and salt to combat icy roads — which is great in winter weather. But once the snow is gone, sand and salt often remain, making traction difficult. Take care at intersections and give yourself a little extra braking time.
Master driving in rain. Spring showers are a sign of renewal, but they can also create tricky driving conditions. Safe driving in a rainstorm means turning your headlights on, driving slowly and giving other vehicles more space. Remember, even just a little rain combined with oil on the road can create slippery conditions.
Steer clear of hail. Driving in a hailstorm is dangerous because you’re not only managing rain and wet roads, now ice is coming at you. To avoid hail damage, it’s best not to drive. If you’re already on the road, pull over and seek shelter to wait out the hail.
Avoid flooded roads. Frozen ground, melting snow and heavy rains are just the right recipe for flooding. If you’re approaching a flooded road, turn around and find a safe route. Standing water is particularly dangerous because there can be strong undercurrents and it’s difficult to tell if you’re looking at just a puddle or deeper water.
Prepare for potholes. Pair salt, sand and heavy snow plows with alternating cold and warm weather and you’ve got the perfect conditions for potholes. The best way to handle potholes is to avoid them. But that’s not always an option. If you see a pothole ahead and can’t avoid it, the safest approach is to slow down and, right before you drive over the pothole, release your brakes. This reduces the speed of impact and gives your suspension a chance to minimize the effects.
Stay off shoulders. Winter erosion followed by spring rains and flooding can soften gravel shoulders and wash away the ground underneath. Your best bet is to avoid driving and parking on gravel shoulders.
Look for pedestrians and bikers. After a long winter, everyone is ready to enjoy the weather. This means increased motorcycles, bicycles and foot traffic on roads and shoulders. Keep your eyes open for others and be particularly cautious in areas with children.
Watch for four-legged travelers. It’s not just people that love the change of season. Many animals are coming out of hibernation. If you see an animal on or near the road, slow down and prepare to stop. If it’s already in the road, resist the urge to swerve. It’s safest to brake in a straight line. Be on high alert at dusk and in rural areas where critters tend to be most active.
Prepare Your Car for Spring Driving
Now that you, the driver, are prepared for spring, it’s time to make sure your vehicle is ready, too! Preparing your car for the season is just another way you can be proactive about protecting the things that matter most.
Wash your car. Salt-treated roads do more than make your car look dirty, salt is a corrosive agent and can cause rust. To prevent this, find a carwash with an under-spray to rinse salt from the surface and the undercarriage.
Look for rust. If your car is starting to show signs of rust, it’s best to treat them immediately. Look for little brown stains or specks, a bubble in the paint or wet floorboards. If you find small, surface rust spots you can sand them down to the metal and treat with primer and paint. For best results, or if you find bigger rust areas, get professional advice.
Replace wiper blades. Winter can be hard on your wiper blades, they’ve been cutting through icy build-up all season long. Replacing the blades every spring ensures they’re in tip-top condition when the first storm hits. While you’re at it, it’s a great idea to check your windshield fluid.
Check your lights. Driving in spring often means driving in rain, when visibility is reduced. Having good working lights helps you see in these conditions and makes you more visible to other vehicles. Be thorough and check your headlights, taillights, backup lights, turn signals, parking lights and brake lights.
Pay attention to your tires. Frigid temps and harsh weather can wear your tires and deflate them. Maintain your tires by checking for proper inflation, a good tread and straight alignment. Don’t forget to give your spare tire a once-over, too!
Test your brakes. Winter gives your brakes a real workout! Make sure they’re in excellent condition by checking brake fluid, pads and rotors so they’re ready to protect you when you need them.
Before you hit the road to take advantage of the beautiful weather, check with your American Family Insurance agent. They’ll make sure you’re up-to-date with your car insurance and have all the coverage you need. You might even discover that you qualify for some discounts.