Tips for Safe Driving in Summer Storms
The storms that popped up in central North Carolina this weekend were a fast and ferocious reminder that rain can be as big a hazard as snow…especially if you are not prepared. Here are some things that weather and driving experts hope you’ll keep in mind. After all, summer is only half over.
Check The Tread
The tire tread provides the gripping action and traction that prevent your vehicle from slipping or sliding, especially when roads are wet or icy. According to Savercar.gov, the nation’s premier source of vehicle safety information, tires are not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch.
Tires have built-in treadwear indicators that let you know when it is time to replace your tires. These indicators are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear “even” with the outside of the tread, it is time to replace your tires.
Another method for checking tread depth is to place a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you are ready for new tires. (In the photo, the tread on the tire covers the top of Lincoln’s head, so it’s not yet ready for replacement.)
Plan for Floods and Tornadoes
It’s not that we’re safety-obsessed (well, maybe a little…it’s our job), but we’re in the season when anything can happen, weatherwise. If you plan to be driving, pay attention to those “Flash Flood Warnings” that are broadcast when the danger is greatest. And then have a plan for dealing with whatever comes your way.
If you’re driving, don’t cross any roadway that is covered with water unless you know the depth of the water for certain. Some roadways dip and can leave a “puddle” deep enough to stall your car and leave you stranded. Even if it is your only route, don’t cross–turn around and wait the storm out if necessary.
If you do find yourself stuck with a stalled vehicle, abandon your car and walk to higher ground. In some cases, driving rains and floods have been strong enough to carry cars away–if you stay in your car, you’ll be carried away, too. People have drowned because of a decision to stay in a flooded car.
If you spot a tornado, don’t think you can out-run it. Your car may be fast, but tornadoes aren’t confined to roads. They can leap-frog over fields and suck your car up before you know what happened. Instead, get out of the car and seek some sort of substantial shelter–a large building or house with a foundation (sheds and trailer homes don’t count). Once inside, head for the lowest level and look for a room with the fewest windows. Cover yourself with a piece of furniture, cushions, blankets, pillows–anything that might protect you from flying glass and debris.
If there is no shelter, then lie down flat, stomach-side down, in a ditch, culvert, or other depression. Cover your head with your hands, and wait for the tornado to pass. (Common sense alert: If the ditch is too full of water to breathe if your head is down, find a different ditch.)
Subscribe to Weather Alerts
You’ll have a jump on the weather if you get weather alerts sent to your email address or cell phone. Some places will even have a recorded message called into your phone! To subscribe to local alerts for your favorite information sources, click here:
Check back later this week for information about how to avoid hydroplaning and other rain/road hazards.