Tips for Driving in Bad Weather

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Do not do this.

State Farm, courtesy of Flickr

Bad weather can contribute to traffic accidents, but there are ways to lessen the risks. WBHM contacted area law enforcement agencies, including the Birmingham Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Below are suggestions for people who have to drive in wet or unpredictable conditions:

  • Leave plenty of room in front of you. Tailgating or following too closely while driving is dangerous. Stopping distances on wet roads are increased, and if you’re not leaving 2-3 seconds of driving time between you and the vehicle in front of you, you are tailgating even in normal conditions.
  • Slow down. A car traveling 60 mph covers 88 feet in one second. In bad weather, visibility is often compromised. “Speed is the big risk factor in rain,” says BPD Sergeant Bryan Shelton. “And just because you see a speed limit sign doesn’t mean you have to go that fast.”
  • Use your wiper blades. “You’d be surprised how many people don’t,” Shelton says.
  • Use your signals to communicate with other drivers.
  • Make sure your tire treads are not worn. A vehicle that can stop normally on a dry road can slide on a wet one.
  • Do not ever try to drive through moving water or standing water of unknown depth.
  • Do not drive while distracted. “Do not even check weather reports on your smart phone — that’s what WBHM is for,” says Shelton.
  • Do not jerk the steering wheel, and be gentle on the gas and brakes as well.

The officers we spoke with pointed out that staying off the roads in bad weather is the most effective safety strategy of all.