With Tropical Storm Isaias making its way through the New York area, I thought I'd go a little off-topic today. I don't have any legal tips about handling your car in a storm, but since we're all probably regular drivers on this blog, I figure it would be helpful for everyone to share some safety tips.
Driving is already a pretty dangerous activity; driving during a tropical storm just makes it all much worse. The first piece of advice you'll hear from all experts is, if the weather is bad, don't drive. I know that might not always be possible, but 2500 pound of metal hurling down the road in a low-visibility, low-traction environment is a recipe for disaster.
When you can't wait for the storm to pass, here are some simple tips that can keep you safe:
- Check the news before you leave. If there's been any warnings or road closures, you're going to want to know about them. If you're going to be stuck in traffic for hours, it might not be worth the effort.
- Don't forget to bring a charging cable for your phone. If a tree falls down blocking the road, or you get stuck in floodwater, a dead battery is the last thing you want.
- Make sure your headlights are on. Not only is this the law when visibility is under 1000 feet, doing so will greatly increase your visibility to other drivers. Be aware that in high-fog or extreme rain, high beams tend to bounce light back at you rather than help you see.
- Drive a little slower than normal. If you are someone who normally hangs out in the left lane, this might be a good time to try out the right one. Let all the other daredevils and risk-takers do their own thing.
- Increase your following distance from other vehicles. This will buy you more time to react if the storm worsens unexpectedly, or another driver slams on his or her breaks.
- Stay open-minded. Just because you started driving doesn't mean that you can't stop. If conditions are worse than you thought (i.e. you can't see markings on the road, or other vehicles from a safe following distance) pull over and take a break. People will understand and no one will guilt you for using the time to catch up on your Youtube video subscriptions. 🙂
If you do decide to pull over, a few more things to keep in mind:
- Ideally, find a parking lot. Staying out on the street carries more risk; in especially wet weather, cars skidding into other cars isn't unheard of.
- If you can't get off the road, consider turning your hazard lights on so other drivers can more easily see where you're stopped.
- Avoid parking near trees, utility poles or other tall objects that may attract lighting or fall onto your vehicle. Low areas that are prone to flooding are also not great places to stop.
Got any other tips you'd like to share? I'd love to hear them.
Stay safe out there!