view down a road with beautiful spring blooms

Spring Driving Safety Tips

Updated March 1, 2022 . AmFam Team

Spring is a great time to hit the road and find new adventures. Make the most of your road trip with a well-prepared driver and vehicle. Our safety tips for spring driving will help!

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, springtime brings its own driving hazards. The following driving tips help you enjoy the ride and make sure you arrive at your destination safely.

What to Prepare for on the Road This Spring

Keep your eyes open and your hands on the wheel to handle these springtime driving hazards:

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.

Being alert on the road isn't the only way to tackle springtime driving hazards. Preparing for spring also means prepping your car for the new season. If both you and your vehicle are prepared for whatever the weather throws at you, you'll be better able to stay safe out on the road.

How to Get Your Car Ready for Spring

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 spring 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 car wash 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, especially 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 (Opens in a new tab). 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.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.

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    To put it into perspective, if you’re traveling at 55 MPH and you take your eyes off the road and onto your phone, you’ve traveled about 100 yards – the length of a football field! That’s quite a distance to cover driving “blind.”

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    Sifting through your music device

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    Checking social media

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    Eating behind the wheel

    You may be a pro at eating your burrito on the go, but ingesting your lunch while driving is a big no-no. All it takes is one wayward waffle fry to take your attention from the road to your lap. And it’s not just the mess that distracts; it’s the smell, taste, you name it – that makes eating one of the most distracting things you can do while driving.

    Other types of distracted driving

    There are a few more forms of distracted driving that could cause an accident. If you’re in the driver’s seat, try to avoid these altogether:

    • Taking selfies
    • Talking on the phone
    • Drinking coffee or another beverage
    • Putting on makeup
    • Using an app
    • Loud music

    Top 5 Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving

    There are easy ways to prevent distracted driving. Try using making these five simple changes distracted driving safety tips to have a safer driving experience.

    Use a text-blocking app

    There are many apps available that block texts while driving. Several apps exist with different features, ranging from ones that completely block any incoming or outgoing texts while going a certain speed, to apps that will send a message saying you’re unavailable to respond to an incoming text. Here’s a list from DMV.org with great suggestions for apps to fight distracted driving.

    Have a passenger navigate for you

    If you’re driving with a passenger (of an appropriate age), hand the directions to them. Even a not-so-great navigator in the passenger seat is better than the person behind the wheel being responsible for both driving and navigating. If you’re driving by yourself, take the time to look at the directions before you set off. Then turn the volume up and let the AI lead the way.

    Make music selection easy

    Make multiple playlists that you can choose from before starting the car. If you really need to change it up, either pull over or wait for a red light. Set your presets to stations you already know you like. Hitting one button is better than cranking the dial until you find music you like.

    Don’t text while driving

    If you’re behind the wheel, just put the phone away. Social media can wait. It’s not going anywhere — that we can promise. Are the notifications too tempting? Turn them off! No comment or new tweet is worth the risk.

    Eat at home or while stopped

    If you’re in a rush and want to keep things moving, consider the hazards of driving while eating behind the wheel. Hopefully you can recognize that the risks outweigh the temptation, and you can wait until you get to your destination to eat.

     

    How Does Distracted Driving Affect Insurance?

    For starters, getting into an at-fault accident will almost always make your insurance premium go up, simply because your insurance company now deems you a higher-risk driver. Distracted driving is no exception. Even if you avoid an accident but you get a ticket for distracted driving, you’re susceptible to those increases in insurance.

    Why does distracted driving increase insurance? For starters, you may be getting a discount for having a clean driving record. But if you get a ticket, such as for texting while driving, you may no longer be eligible for that discount, and you’ll notice an increase in your premium. Another reason your insurance might go up goes back to being a higher risk. If you’re guilty of distracted driving, an insurance company will consider you a high-risk driver (meaning you’re more likely to file a claim due to an accident) and they’ll set your premiums higher.

    Many of the discounts that insurance companies give out revolve around rewarding drivers for having no claims and a good driving record in general. Don’t let distracted driving take away those perks!

    Protect Yourself From Distracted Drivers on the Road

    Avoiding distracting driving behaviors is a great way to be safe on the road, and car insurance is a great way to stay protected from the unexpected. With American Family you can customize your car coverage to meet your unique needs. Talk to your agent today to find the right coverage for you.

    The Insurance Information Institute claims driving while interacting with a mobile device can increase the odds of a crash by as much as 3.5 times, compared to the risks that a sober, alert and attentive driver faces. Teens are more susceptible to collisions, even when speaking hands-free on a mobile phone. Let’s explore the many ways you can help prevent distracted driving accidents.