Duvall’s Towing Tips: Safe Driving Techniques in South Florida’s Bad Weather
The weather can be a nearly unpredictable force, especially in tropical areas like Florida. Last Thursday, South Florida was struck by one of the most extraordinary thunderstorms on record. Heavy rainfall nearing six inches of downpour, fits of hail, and unyielding winds at up to 55 mph swept through Martin, Palm Beach, and Broward County, causing extensive damage to vehicles, homes, businesses, and a number of public facilities.
While storms like these are rare, they come as no surprise to long-term residents. As weathered Floridians, we know to expect anything from high-speed winds to a lightning storm within minutes of a clear sky; but as drivers, we must be prepared. While all safe drivers can adjust their driving to meet the changing conditions of the roads they travel, poor weather conditions are always a challenge, regardless of individual experience.
Below are three types of weather conditions commonplace in Florida, and the safety precautions necessary to overcome them on the road.
This may come as a surprise, but fog is actually proven to be the most hazardous driving condition. It impairs visibility more than any other form of bad weather, and more multi-vehicle accidents have happened during fog than during heavy rain or wind. If possible, it is best to pull over and wait for the fog to lift before driving on. If not, follow these safety measures while driving through fog:
Keep Your Distance: Driving at a distance from the car in front of you is a necessary precaution in all types of weather. Since fog density varies, road visibility fluctuates. Maintaining a safe distance means more time to brake in the event of a sudden stop ahead of you.
Let The Road Guide You: Keep an eye on the road lines. Driving along the line on your right will not only help you stay in your lane, but will also prevent vision impairment brought on by the headlights of oncoming traffic.
Use Your Turn Signals Early On: When using your turn signal, leave it on for longer than you normally would before actually attempting to turn or change lanes. Doing this will alert the drivers behind you that you will be slowing to make a turn, which will allow them to react accordingly.
Do Not Use Your High Beams: High beam headlights will actually make visibility worse since light reflects off of fog and creates a glare. If you have fog lights, make note of where they are in your car and use them. If not, use your low beam headlights.
Driving in the rain is unsafe for two reasons: limited visibility and slick road surfaces. Using your windshield wipers and headlights, slowing down, and staying alert while driving in the rain are safety measures that every driver already takes. Still, there’s no way to predict the behavior of other drivers, so practicing defensive driving while using these techniques is an important factor in staying safe in rainy weather:
Don’t Slam On Your Brakes: When it rains, the road becomes slippery, so braking abruptly can cause skidding. To ensure that you don’t rear-end other vehicles during rainy conditions, drive a reasonable distance behind the car in front of you to allow more time to brake.
Follow The Leader: When avoiding puddles or slick parts of the road, you should follow the tracks of the car in front of you. Doing so reduces the risk of losing control of your car as a result of hydroplaning.
Use The Middle Lanes: No road is perfectly flat. During particularly heavy rain storms, water will usually gather at the outer edges of the road to form large puddles. You can avoid them by driving in the middle lanes.
Dry Your Brakes: If you have no choice but to drive through a pool of water, make sure to brake slowly a few times after. Gentle braking after contact with water will help dry the brakes so they continue to function properly.
Getting caught in crosswinds while driving is incredibly stressful and can be very dangerous. While they don’t typically impair your vision as fog and rain do, windy weather conditions can have a heavy influence over your control of the car. Recreational vehicles and trailers are especially vulnerable to serious damage that high-speed winds can inflict. The best way to drive safely in strong winds is to use the following safety measures:
Be Observant: Headwinds, tailwinds, crosswinds, or any combination of these can push the front, back, or side of a car. By driving cautiously and keeping an eye on the other cars on the road, you can act quickly and accordingly in the event that the wind’s strength or direction changes.
Slow Down: Gusts of wind can be sudden and forceful. When faced with strong winds, the best defense against losing steering control is to reduce your speed. This will allow you to better adjust your steering for a smoother, safer drive.
Pull Over: Stopping on the side of the road or finding a safe place to park is sometimes the only thing a driver can do when caught in a storm behind the wheel. If wind or any other poor driving conditions are too strong to power through, the best thing you can do is pull over.
At Duvall’s Towing Services, we want all drivers to remain safe and to be prepared for poor weather conditions when behind the wheel. Still, weather is unpredictable, especially in South Florida. Remember that whenever possible, refrain from driving altogether in the event of severe weather. Keep our number handy, 561-432-8488, just in case you experience a breakdown, accident, or collision. We will assist you as soon as possible—fog, rain, wind, or shine.