dangers of spring driving
Spring showers and flowers are often joined by a handful of seasonal driving hazards. Find out what to avoid, and use our spring-driving tips to get you and your car safely to summer.
Why spring driving is dangerous
With winter fading into the background and better weather all around, you'd think the roads would finally be safe again. This isn't always the case.
Rainy days and flooding
Spring rain brings slippery road conditions and flooding. According to the Federal Highway Administration, rain was a culprit of 47 percent of all weather-related crashes from 1995 to 2008, and wet pavement in general accounted for 75 percent.
What makes rain and wet pavement so dangerous? For one, slippery roads reduce your car's handling and increase the distance it takes to stop (up to 4 times normal stopping distance). Big puddles can also cut down on tire traction and could lead to hydroplaning.
Beware of hailstorms, particularly if you live in a hail-belt state (Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri). Even small hailstones can shatter windshields, and raining balls of ice are never good for the roads (or anybody, really).
Winter road wear and tear
In many states, winter wreaks havoc on the roads. Snow plows, salt, sand, and the aftermath of ice can all leave roads a bit battered. Once snow melts away, expect to drive over new potholes.
Animals are incredibly active during the spring. Some are emerging from hibernation, and others are entering mating season. This could mean that more animals are crossing streets and roaming around. Many animals, especially deer, are most active at dawn or dusk.
More bicycles on the road
Spring also brings cyclists out of hibernation. Driving alongside cyclists can make traffic maneuvers, from turning right to parallel parking, more dangerous.
Spring driving safety tips
- Check your lights. Since spring rain hinders driving visibility, make sure all your lights work, including headlights, taillights, backup lights, turn signals, parking lights, and brake lights.
- Replace your wiper blades. Worn-out wiper blades may not be up to the task of clearing water away from your windshield. Check your wiper blades and replace them if necessary (usually once a year).
- Check your tire pressure. Harsh winter weather can deflate your tires. Make sure you have enough air in them once spring rolls around. (As a bonus, proper tire pressure can also help you increase your mpg.)
- Slow down and drive carefully. The first few rainy days of spring can produce exceptionally slippery roads due to oil and other leaked fluids mixing with rainwater, so slow down and increase your stopping distance when it's raining.
- Keep your eyes peeled for bad road conditions. Remember that harsh winter weather breeds potholes and other driving obstacles.
- Watch out for animals. This is especially important during the early morning and evening when animals are most active.
Safe spring driving
Seasonal showers, migrating animals, and poor road conditions can create unpleasant complications out on the road. Use the above tips to your advantage and you'll be that much more prepared for any seasonal driving dangers that come your way.
Summer driving dangers
Summer has its fair share of driving dangers too. Find out how to handle them here.
Driving around the animals
Get some tips on avoiding animal-related accidents.
Driving during floods
Heavy spring rains can lead to dangerous floods. Learn what to do if you find yourself (and your car) stuck under water.