Spring is Here In the Colorado Front Range!
3 Spring Weather Conditions to Prepare For When Driving
Rain is a common spring weather condition…and can often be a warning of worse weather to come. Here is how to stay safe driving in spring rains.
Water accumulation on the roadway requires your tires to displace water in order to keep good rubber-to-rad contact. The faster you’re going, the more water they’ll need to displace, and the more likely you are to hydroplane (a loss of contact between the road and tires, which results in your tires gliding across the water instead). At 35MPH on roads with as little at 1/12 inch water accumulation, even new tires can lose contact with the road.
Keep your Distance
In addition to hydroplaning, less road contact means less precise handling and stopping. Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and prepare to stop sooner than you would in good weather. Keeping a safe distance will also allow you to respond to other vehicles should they lose control.
Use your Headlights
Reduced visibility due to heavy rains is a recipe for disaster. Make yourself as visible as possible by keeping our headlights on during inclement weather. If traffic has slowed significantly below the normal speed limit, consider turning your hazard lights on, especially if there’s no one (that you can see) behind you.
It’s easy to get into a driving routine, but wet roads mean you’ll need to constantly assess and adjust your driving. Amenities like cruise control can inhibit your ability to respond to a loss of traction situation, so it’s best to keep the feature off.
Related Article:Wet Weather Driving Tips for Spring
Spring in the Colorado front range often means higher than average wind gusts that come along with spring storms. Make sure you are prepared with the information you need to drive under windy conditions.
Regardless of the size of your vehicle, crosswinds can make it difficult to maintain control of your vehicle. The larger the vehicle, the more you’ll feel it getting “pushed” off the road. Keep your speed reduced so you have time to adjust your steering to maintain your heading.
While crosswinds are more constant, high-speed gusts can appear with little warning; if you’re not prepared, you can be blown off the roadway. Pay attention to any trees, shrubs, or other indicators on the side of the road to get an idea of whether a gust is making its way across the road ahead.
Keep a Firm Grip on the Wheel
Between crosswinds, gusts, and headwinds, you’ll need to be paying extra attention and care to keep your vehicle traveling in the right direction and staying on the road. Maintaining a firm grip on the wheel will allow you to react should the winds change.
Watch for Flying dDebris or Downed Power Lines
High winds can cause significant damage quickly, so roads that were clear immediately prior may be blocked by debris or downed power lines. If the wind is currently blowing, keep an eye out around your vehicle for any debris that may have been picked up by the wind.
Pay Attention to Larger Vehicles
Vehicles like buses, semi’s or those with trailers may require an extra wide berth as they can sometimes struggle to maintain their lanes. In some extreme cases, gusts may knock a vehicle over.
If you aren’t from Colorado this weather might sound a little strange, but those of us who have been through the season in the front range know that spring hail is a common phenomenon. It can be scary to drive in a hail storm if you are unprepared.
The faster you’re going, the harder hail will hit your vehicle, so keep your speeds low. You’ll also want to stay at a lower speed so you have time to react to any other drivers or obstacles that may appear on the roadway. If the hailstones are small enough, you may experience icy driving conditions similar to snow or sleet.
Get off the Road Safely
If the hail is large enough to damage your car, it will do so whether you’re driving or not, and your focus at that point should be on finding yourself shelter. Make sure you completely leave the roadway; Sitting on the shoulder, even if you’ve cleared the road, is a dangerous position to be in as other vehicles may slide or drive directly into you. Your best bet will be to exit the road (if on a highway) or pull off to a side street before hunkering down either outside your car in a sturdy shelter or laying facedown in the backseat to avoid glass.
Overpasses are not Safe Shelter
It may seem like a great way to protect your vehicle from damage but stopping under overpasses passes is a risky proposition for a variety of reasons, including being rear-ended or crashed into. Additionally, if a couple of people decide to stop in the shoulder and eventually the shoulder fills up, subsequent motorists generally start stopping in the lanes under the overpass, impeding both traffic and first responders. Hail storms may also indicate tornadic activity, and should you be under an overpass, you’re a sitting duck in a wind tunnel. Continue driving until you find a safe spot to exit.
Related Article: Protect Your Car During Hail Storms
Rain, Wind, or Hail…AAMCO Colorado Has Your Back in Any Weather
Remember, if the weather starts to turn, slowing down is the best way to buy yourself time to assess the situation. But before the weather strikes, get ready by ensuring your vehicle is in the best shape possible – you don’t want to be worrying about your brakes or transmission failing in the middle of a major thunderstorm!
If you have any concerns with your vehicle, need to catch up on maintenance after the winter, or just want some peace of mind from an expert mechanic, call or make an appointment at your local AAMCO Colorado location. We’re happy to take a look at your vehicle and perform a multi-point inspection, annual maintenance, or diagnostics.