Spring is just around the corner, and that means longer days and warmer weather. Spring also means no more snow- and ice-covered roads (hurrah!). Since we don’t have to worry about sliding on slick roads or getting stuck in snowstorms, most drivers assume that better weather makes for safer driving conditions. Spring brings a number of new hazards to the road that drivers need to pay attention to, and this article will address some of the most important points to remember to ensure you and your family arrive safely, including:
- Potholes that form during winter months can damage your vehicle and cause accidents. We will look at how to identify and minimize damage during your drive.
- Sun glare is a serious concern for many drivers. We will look at how to maintain your car to minimize sun glare and other items to help keep you safe.
- Increased motorcycles and bicyclists with warmer weather could mean more risk of injury. We will discuss several simple and effective tips to keep everyone safer on the roads.
- Careful driving in neighborhoods is necessary as more children will be out playing and could dart into the roads without warning.
- More wildlife activity, especially in rural areas, means that you need to pay more attention to the road to avoid hitting animals while driving.
- Frequent rainstorms bring beautiful flowers but standing water also makes the roads slick and could hurt your eyes. We will discuss several ways to drive safer and reduce eye strain while driving.
Before you jump into your car to enjoy the season, it’s important to make yourself aware of the dangers spring driving so that you don’t end up in a potentially hazardous situation. Shifting from winter to spring driving actually causes many accidents and not just because of the changing weather. The U.S. Department of Transportation has found that most people drive more cautious on snow and ice. However, this same approach to careful driving is not carried over to the wet roads often seen in spring.
While spring may not seem like it poses as much danger as winter, the constant rainfall and oil slicks combined with the warm sun can make road conditions dangerous, and this can lead to auto accidents if drivers are not aware of the main hazards that await them on the road. Here are a few of the leading causes of a crash that you should be mindful of this year!
The snow and ice may be gone, but winter leaves its mark on the roadways long after the weather thaws. Plows are constantly tending road during the winter months to clear snow and ice for drivers. During this process plows can gauge out chunks of roads and freezing and thawing contracts concrete, leaving behind massive potholes. In cold months, snow and ice can fill in potholes so their presence will have minimum impact on vehicles and drivers. However, once warmer weather hits, that snow and ice will melt leaving deep holes in the road that can cause significant damage to cars and contribute to traffic accidents. Even more, spring weather can make it difficult to see potholes before you hit them. When a spring shower blows in, those potholes fill up with water, making them hard to understand.
If you hit a pothole, your car can suffer severe damage, like popping tires, bending rims, and damaging suspension or the alignment of your vehicle. Not only are these types of damages expensive to fix, but they can also disrupt traffic and cause cars to swerve and lead to a traffic accident. While there is no easy fix for drivers to address these hazards, you should keep a close eye on the road during spring and leave ample space between you and the car in front of you. If you do see a pothole, avoid swerving, as doing so could also cause significant problems. Instead, gently press on the brakes as soon as you can in a controlled manner to retain control of your vehicle and reduce the impact that the pothole will have on your car.
A beautiful spring drive can quickly take a turn for the worse, thanks to the sun. Sun glare is a leading factor for auto accidents, and the hazards of sun glare are most often seen during sunrise and sunset. This is because the sun is directly in the line of sight of drivers when it is low on the horizon. Each year sun glare is responsible for thousands of accidents across the U.S., so drivers need to pay extra attention to the time of day and other factors when driving during the hours with the highest risk of sun glare.
Always have a pair of polarized sunglasses in your car so you can shield your eyes from the blinding sun glare. These types of sunglasses are specially made to filter out the sun’s reflected light. You can also increase safety by keeping your windshield clean. A dirty windshield can scatter light, and this can make it even more difficult to see the road and judge your environment. Also, if possible, you can reduce the dangers of sun glare by changing the direction and route that you take during the springtime. Instead of traveling west and east (where the sun sets and rises), you can go north or south when possible.
Watch For Increased Motorcyclists and Bicyclists On The Road
Motorcyclists and bicyclists tend to hit the roads in large numbers in the spring, and this added traffic can make the roads more hazardous for those who are driving passenger vehicles. It can be difficult to see motorcyclists and bicyclists due to the reduced profile these vehicles have compared to cars and trucks.
The best course of action to reduce these dangers is to minimize all distractions while driving and pay close attention when approaching intersections. Always check your surrounding several times before changing lanes, turning, or backing up. If you are driving near a motorcyclist or bicyclist, then you should try to keep a safe distance and reduce your speed to ensure everyone’s safety.
More Children Playing Outside
After spending months cooped up inside, most children can’t wait to get outside and play when the spring comes. While kicking the ball or playing with friends, many children are not always aware of their surroundings. If you’re driving in a residential neighborhood, then you should always pay attention to your surroundings and be prepared to brake and/or swerve out of the way of children who enter the road without warning. Reduce your speed significantly and keep an extra eye out for children playing, rolling balls, or other toys in the road. If you see a shot or other items bouncing along a street, it is best to stop and not proceed until you are sure there aren’t any children nearby. This is because
Increased Wildlife Activity
Many animals (like humans) come out of hibernation once the snow and ice melt. With the budding trees, most species begin the natural cycle of searching for food and mating. This natural cycle is undoubtedly beautiful, but it can also pose a serious risk to drivers. Increased animal activity means that all types of creatures are more likely to come in contact with your vehicle or cause a crash. When you’re driving in wooded areas, use extreme caution. Slow down and be extremely aware. Heed the warnings of wildlife crossing signs. Also, remember that a lot of animals, such as deer, are more active during dawn and dusk, which could increase your chances of a run-in.
Spring showers may bring beautiful flowers, but they also make driving more treacherous. Heavy, wind-swept rains can significantly reduce visibility and flood out roadways in a matter of minutes. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, make sure you’re prepared by checking your windshield wipers before you start driving to make sure they are functioning correctly. At first sight of raindrops, turn on your wipers and headlights. Slow down and keep a safe distance between your car and other drivers. If the rain is so intense that you’re having a hard time seeing, pull over to the side of the road until the storm passes. Of course, make sure you use your directional blinkers before you change direction or alter course on the road. Keep your lights on and turn on your hazard signals so that other drivers can see you if you pull over and use a road safety kit if needed to make sure traffic sees you in hazardous situations.
Keep Spring Beautiful & Safe For Driving
There’s nothing better than hitting the open road and taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather. However, it’s important to remember that a lovely spring drive can quickly turn into a disaster at without warning. By being aware of the driving hazards that are associated with the spring seasons and by knowing how to navigate them, you can reduce your chances of being involved in a situation that could extensively damage your car and seriously injure yourself, your passengers, other drivers, pedestrians, and animals. Don’t put yourself or anyone else at-risk during the spring! Be aware, make smart decisions, and drive with extreme caution. A tragedy is the last thing any driver wants.