Driving tips for minors—or even seasoned—during bad weather.
So hey everyone, with the winter months approaching rapidly, I kind of wanted to address this post for my newcomer/young drivers during bad weather, because I haven’t seen something like it yet.
*I am going to be talking in favor southern states. For the mere fact that I’ve lived in the south my entire life, I know freezing temperatures in the south are comparable to walk in the parks in the northern states. With that being said, the same tips could still be useful.
1. Driving a Comfortable Speed
a. I can’t stress how important this is to you if you’re driving in bad weather. People are going to be impatient driving behind you and that’s on them. Do not go any faster than you are comfortable. Some people are used to driving in the rain, snow, ice, however if you are someone who is not do not I repeat do not go any faster than you’re comfortable with.
b. This could save your life and quite possibly everyone else’s. As I stated in my last point that some people are used to driving in bad weather, a large percentage of people remain cautious anyway. You need to be one of those people. Your destination is not going anywhere, take your time, arrive safely.
2. Car Maintenance
a. If you’re a new driver, you’re probably aware of the basic things you learn from your parents/guardians. Like; changing your oil, how to change a tire, checking your headlights—etc. However, something pretty extreme you need to understand is that when the temperatures drop, your car is susceptible to “frequent” issues. This could range from your engine light coming on all the way to your car reading low tire pressure (*I want to note here that if you’re driving an older model vehicle, say prior to 2000, those vehicles do not come with fancy desktop warnings, so in that case please do frequent check ups for those) which is normal during freezing weather.
b. When you are getting ready for work/school you need to make sure to start your car up at least twenty minutes prior to leaving. This will allow your engine to warm up, the windshields to defrost. If someone woke you up at below freezing temperatures, you’re not likely going to just hop out of bed and immediately take off, correct? Treat your car the same way.
c. Your tire pressure is subject to fluctuate. Air shrinks when it is cold. Your car tires lose pressure, but have enough volume that the tires don’t entirely deflate. This will give your car that whacky reading of low pressurized tires, this in turn is a safety measure for you, check your tire pressure frequently during cold weather. Recommended pressure is usually between 30 and 35 PSI.
d. I’d say do this habit frequently, especially if you’re having your tires rotated you need to also ask them to bounce your tires, all that means is that it will accurately measure the weight of your car that sits on those tires. If your tires are not balanced you will notice a difference—constant vibration when you brake/step on the gas. It’s your tires trying to compensate for the weight of the car sitting on them.
a. The term tread comes from basically the layer of coating on your cars tires. Tread wares over time, so just as you would rotate your tires every 7-10,000 miles, your maintenance people need to also inform you if your tread is wearing thin/needs to replaced and quickly.
b. The thinner your tread is, the more likely you are to lose control. The reason this is dangerous in bad weather (for obvious reasons) is that because your car relies on being able to grip the pavement it is cruising on. You know that loud vibration sound you hear and feel when you’re drifting too far into to the emergency lane? That’s tread. That noise and feeling is what’s keeping your car from sliding off the road. Thin tread is a death wish in bad weather, because if it’s pouring down rain, the roads are slick, so if you’re driving at speeds of 40-60 mph, your car isn’t going to have the grip it should have to bring you to complete halt as it would on dry pavement/with better tread. Weak tread will allow water to get into the groves of your tires, this creates friction that will in turn loosen the grip your tire has on the road. So if you slammed the brake (DO NOT do this in rain) your tires are going to spin viciously but will lose their balance because they aren’t gripping the pavement which will throw you out of control. Weak/thin tread is by far the most dangerous situation you could subject yourself to (next to riding without a seatbelt).
Now that I’ve gone over a few safety/maintenance tips with you that they (probably) don’t teach you in drivers ed class, I want to cover points of actual road dangers, that could cost you your life or someone else’s. So please pay attention.
1. Black Ice
a. In grade school, you’re taught that water freezes at 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). With that knowledge in mind, you’re also taught that 32 degrees F is also severely damn cold. In souther states that’s considered freezing. You can drive in cold weather, in fact you can even drive in snow (*If you’re comfortable and absolutely experienced) however if it’s 32 degrees F and it is also raining, roads will freeze over. If your local news station/channel gives you the warning of Black Ice you need to cancel your plans for the day. Black Ice is not “I’m late to work, I’ll take it slow.” Or “My kids really need to get to school.” Black Ice is literally: https://youtu.be/x3w7awkBwmo (report to your local police station that an iced over area is a collision course so they can take proper measures to warn/aide people)
b. The reason this road hazard is so dangerous is because most people have 2WD (2 Wheel Drive) meaning that they have control over only the front tires. When those two tires encounter black ice, they lock in a fixed position, similiar to what your legs would do walking on ice, as seen in the video above. The BEST thing you can do in this situation: DO NOT BRAKE. This not something they teach in drivers ed, because immediate basic human reaction to losing control of your vehicle is to brake and I cannot stress to you enough DO NOT BRAKE ON BLACK ICE. YOU WILL LOSE CONTROL. What you CAN do is take your foot OFF the gas and turn your steering wheel WITH the way you’re sliding. IF you turn AGAINST the turn you are prone to flipping your vehicle or even tail spinning out of control, that’s called an overcorrection, this is usually what results in fatalities. When you turn WITH the glide, your car will eventually straighten out to correct itself.
c. If you’re driving 4WD (4 Wheel Drive) you’re prone to being able to correct this quicker than 2WD mainly because you have control of all four tires. If control is lost to the two front tires, it automatically engages the back end tires which is your power steering. However over exerting this force could also lead to a casualty. Your best bet is to also take your foot OFF the gas and turn with the glide, letting it correct itself.
a. This is by far the second most dangerous form of a road hazard, mainly because it is the one thing that’s hard to “warn” against. The only way you’ll really know what to do is by experiencing this firsthand yourself. However, I’m here to help ease that for you. Hydroplaning is basically the scenario I explained above in having weak tread, the difference being that it could also apply to having tougher/thicker tread too. Basically, it’s going through a flood of water that your tires don’t have the balance to withstand, so it loses all traction entirely which causes the car to lose control. This is why they stress to you not to brake in the rain, because your tires are prone to hydroplaning, when water works it’s way into the grooves of your tires and makes you lose traction. This is even more dangerous in puddles/trenches of water because it could also flood your engine.
b. If you or anyone is in the dire situation of hydroplaning, DO NOT BRAKE. Once again—this is actually where the fatality rates come in from over correcting. What you CAN. do is hold tightly onto the wheel, DO NOT turn with the spin, let your car glide whatever direction it is going. Reason being is that your wheels are literally off the ground during a hydroplane. (*Notice the word Plane in the term) In this situation there is nothing you can really do, except hope for the best. Your car will eventually come to rest if you are able to avoid hitting something. When that is the case, gradually ease back onto the road and by all means go as slow as you possibly can.
c. A way to avoid hydroplaning if it all means possible is that if you are approaching an intersection, start coming to a gradual halt miles back. Do not wait until you’re bumper to tail of another car to slam your brake. Hydroplaning is avoidable if you’re cautious mainly because it’s a mix of going too fast and stopping too quickly. If you avoid doing either of those in the pouring down rain, you should be safe. However, you still need to be cautious regardless.
a. I am going to assume that you’re aware of how hail is formed but if not: http://www.answers.com/Q/How_is_hail_formed here you go. This weather is particularly dangerous for the main reason that it’s literal balls of ice falling at 10-20 mph, 6 inches in diameter pelting against your car/windshield. If you’re caught in a hail storm while driving, your initial reaction needs to be finding cover. Most gas stations are safe to park under, some overpasses might prove safe as well—just find somewhere quickly. However if by chance you’re driving in an open area and there is no cover, your best bet is to shield yourself. Your car might be totaled but your life could be saved. It’s been documented that hail could reach large amounts of density and fall at quicker speeds, which could shatter the skull of a human. (yes, hail can actually kill someone: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2006/04/how_dangerous_is_hail.html )If that is the case your safest bet is to stay inside of your car, ducking so if the glass layer breaks, it won’t fly into your eyes or mouth. Even if the hail was enough to shatter your windshield, being inside of your car is still safer. Why? Because that’s still a layer—a pretty thick layer too—protecting you as well as the roof above your head. Hail should not penetrate the roof of a vehicle, so if worst luck is it busting your windshield, as long as you keep your head down and covered, you should be okay. Here’s an example of bracing while in a vehicle: https://youtu.be/KiKaOHdkP9o That video gives a pretty good reaction of staying calm and also shows just how strong a windshield actually is. They are made to withstand hundreds of pounds of force, even if hail penetrates it, you’re still roughly safer inside the vehicle than outside if coverage is not available/an immediate option.
I did not include on this last Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Wildfires, Earthquakes or Tsnuami’s because those are natural disasters and in your average life span you shouldn’t need to risk your life driving through any of those frequently.
I want to stress to young/new or even seasoned drivers that these weather conditions are no joke. I don’t want to hear about a follower of mine losing their life to dangerous road conditions. Neither does your family. Please be safe and vigilant. If weather conditions frighten you by all means find other means of transportation. My first wreck on December 7th, 2013 nearly claimed my life. I was not taught any of this while in Drivers Ed when I was 15, in fact the program was removed shortly after my semester concluded. I want my followers to be safe during the holiday seasons/year round.