Tips for Spring Driving

Spring is finally here and with it a whole new set of things to watch out for on the road. From April showers to May flowers, from the bright sun to children on the run, there are a lot of changes the “king of seasons” brings about. Let’s take a look at some of the more prominent changes you may face and some tips for adjusting to them.

Spring Showers

Springtime is a season of warmth and growth, but it’s not without the occasional rainstorm. Be sure to exercise caution during rainy weather. It’s always a good idea to keep your headlights on when driving in the rain, and some states go so far as enforcing such a practice through law. This increases visibility and can help prevent accidents. Also, it’s important to allow yourself ample time to reach your destination. Speeding is bad enough, but doing so in the rain is just plain reckless.

Puddles and Potholes

Also in regards to rain, be wary of puddles of water in or beside the roadway. When you can safely do so, it’s usually best to avoid driving through puddles as the water can damage and degrade different parts of your vehicle. Of course, if there is no safe alternate route, you may need to drive through the puddle. If that is the case, leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles, drive slowly, and use both hands on the steering wheel to avoid losing control.

Heavy rain can also wear down the roads, creating potholes. Just like puddles of water, it’s usually best to try and avoid driving over potholes so long as there is a safe way to do so. If not, exercise the same caution as if it were a puddle: keep away from other vehicles, drive slowly, and maintain control of your vehicle.

With both puddles and potholes, if you come across one that is too big or dangerous to avoid or drive across, your best bet may be to turn around and find an alternate route.

Sun Glare

Winter is in our rear-view mirror and bright, sunny days are ahead. Most of us welcome the sun, but we might not always be the biggest fans of its intense light. Sun glare can temporarily blind drivers and can be a huge risk on the road. Temporary blindness never mixes well with operating motor vehicles.

The best way to avoid those blinding rays is to be prepared. Sunglasses are a convenient way to reduce the intensity of the sun. Some drivers prefer hats or visors to keep their eyes shaded. It’s always a good idea to keep such a hat or sunglasses in your vehicle in case you end up driving against the sun. You can also position the sun visor in your car to block out those pesky rays.

Motorcyclists and Bicyclists

Spring is when most people dust off their bikes and revisit the road. It might take a bit of effort to readjust to sharing the road with so many bicyclists and motorcyclists after a long winter without many, but you must stay alert and attentive for riders on the road. Remember, they have just as much right to be on the road as any other vehicle.

One basic tip for adjusting to such drivers is to keep constant situational awareness on the road. Use all of your mirrors and always look over your shoulder before turning or switching lanes, as well as using your car blinker. If you do get behind a bicyclist on the road and there isn’t a safe way to pass, be patient. It’s better to arrive late to your destination than not arrive at all.

Keep an extra eye out for motorcyclists. Certain states, like California, allow motorcyclists to “lane split,” or ride between lanes of stopped or slower traffic. This is both safe and legal, so long as all drivers do their part and stay alert on the road.

Kids Playing Outside

You’re not only going to see more bike riders on the road during springtime; children will likely be outside more, playing in their yards, on the sidewalk, and possibly even on the street. Be sure to pay extra attention to any children in the area, even if they aren’t on the roadway. If a ball goes bouncing across the street, chances are there will be a child chasing after it. As a driver, it is your responsibility to keep an eye out for such situations and be prepared to stop if needed. Doing so could save a child’s life. Remember to drive safely and slowly in all residential and school areas.

Peak Time for Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions

Spring is also a high-risk time for wildlife-vehicle collisions due to animals migrating and/or mating. Even though Spring isn’t generally as bad as Fall in regards to wildlife-vehicle collisions, it is still considered a peak time due to the increased rates of such accidents. There will usually be signs posted in high-traffic areas that wild animals tend to cross; exercise extreme caution in such areas.

Drive at safe speeds and practice defensive driving techniques. Be especially wary during sunrise and sunset since that’s when larger animals like deer and moose tend to roam around. When driving at night, use your high beams to better illuminate the road, so long as there aren’t vehicles ahead that could be disoriented by the brightness. The extra light can help you spot animals on the road sooner, making it easier and safer for you to properly react. You might also want to use your car horn in multiple short bursts to scare an animal out of the road, but, once again, don’t do this if it could disorient other drivers.

If a collision with an animal seems inevitable, there are a few techniques you could perform to reduce damage to yourself and your vehicle. First, do NOT swerve into another lane of traffic to avoid an animal. This can cause you to hit another vehicle head-on, creating a greater accident than if you hit the animal. Instead, brake firmly and try to graze the animal rather than impacting it directly. Also, let off the brake right as you impact. This will cause your vehicle to lift a bit which might prevent a larger animal from impacting against your windshield.

Refer to this article for a detailed, step-by-step list of how to avoid larger animals on the road.

Allergy Medication

With so many beautiful flowers in bloom, your allergies might be kicking into overtime. Be sure to read the warning labels on any allergy medications you take. Look on the label for any warnings against driving or operating heavy machinery. If your allergy medication causes drowsiness or impairs your vision or hearing, do not drive.

Follow these tips, drive defensively, and enjoy the lovely Spring weather.

Happy driving, everyone!