How to Weather the Weather
By: Faith Sealscott | SADD National College Advisory Council
When the weather outside is frightful, we typically try to avoid getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, if possible. However, if you must venture out onto the roadway during inclement weather, you need to be cautious and prepared. As a college student, I have been driving for a few years now, and I still find adverse weather conditions to be quite a challenge. Depending on where you live and what season you are experiencing, driving conditions can be drastically different. For example, I am a born and raised Ohioan. The weather conditions that we have here are nowhere near the same as those who live in Florida or Montana may see.
It is important to be prepared for any type of weather the sky throws at you. With that being said, there are four proactive steps that you should take before you set out on the road. First, check the forecast for the route to your destination. If the sky is clear, you should be good to go! However, if there is impending weather that could alter your driving capabilities, it is a good idea to remain vigilant.
Next, check your vehicle for flaws. Is there any maintenance that should be done? Do your windshield wipers need to be replaced? Are your headlights all functioning properly? You never know what conditions may be on the road ahead, so don’t skip this step for the sake of your safety!
The third step involves making sure you have the proper equipment packed in case of an emergency. Have a first-aid kit handy, along with food, water, and a blanket. If you live in an area where snow is common during the winter months, keep a snow brush and scraper, as well as a bag of sand in your trunk.
Finally, check the route you plan to take for any unpleasant road conditions. This is different from checking the forecast! Ice, snow, and even flooding could leave road conditions inadequate, so consider rerouting if possible, to avoid the extra risk.
When it comes to navigating adverse weather, the most important advice I have to give is to remain aware of your surroundings, be mindful of your speed, and adjust your skills to fit the current conditions of the roadway. When in doubt, slow it down to have more reaction time on your side. Practice, and practice often in different seasons, environments, and times of the day. When I first began driving, my father told me if my wipers are on, my headlights should be too. He also told me to only drive as fast as you can react and see. These nuggets of knowledge stuck with me, and it is my hope that they will stick with you too. SADD and The National Road Safety Foundation’s #DrivingSkills101 Passport to Safe Driving is full of more information on weathering the weather behind the wheel. Be sure to check it out!