Seasonal Driving Tips to Keep You Safe on the Road Year-Round
Driving isn’t the same all year. Each season brings different challenges to drivers on the roads. In the winter you might be dealing with ice and sudden downpours of hail, snow, or rain. In the summer, you may have to deal with the sun shining in your eyes through the windshield and lots of extra pedestrians on the streets.
Operating a vehicle in different seasons can be difficult, especially when conditions can change so quickly and unexpectedly. But whether you’re contending with snow, ice, rain, hail, the sun, or extra drivers and pedestrians, there are ways to drive safely. Keep reading for helpful driving tips for every season!
Tips for Driving Safely Through the Seasons
Spring Driving Tips
Spring is a beautiful time of year in the Pacific Northwest. After a long and cold winter, most of us are happy to see the sun coming out, flowers blooming, and folks out and about enjoying it. But spring also brings some unique driving challenges that drivers in Oregon and beyond should keep in mind.
Here are some spring driving tips to follow:
- Watch for increased foot traffic, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
- Be prepared for potholes that may have appeared due to ice, salted roads, and tire chains.
- Keep an eye out for pets and wildlife; if you see an animal on or near the road, slow down and be prepared to stop.
- Watch for leftover patches of ice, especially if you head up into the mountains or other high-elevation areas.
- Be prepared for unexpected rain and low visibility.
In addition to taking precautions on the road, consider bringing your car in for spring maintenance. This will help take care of any damage caused during the winter months and get your car road-ready for spring and summer adventures.
Summer Driving Tips
For many of us, the summer months mean longer road trips and maybe even some off-roading. Unfortunately, accidents are all too common in the summertime. In fact, August is the most dangerous month for driving.
Summer driving involves some unique demands and considerations. Here are a few tips to stay safe:
- Wear sunglasses to avoid the glaring sun in your eyes, which can cause accidents.
- Pack an emergency preparedness kit if you’re heading out into the wilderness; you can buy ready-made kits or make your own.
- Watch out for distracted or drunk drivers, especially on weekends and summer holidays.
- Know what to do if your car breaks down.
- Watch the shoulders carefully; on very hot days, vehicles may overheat, leaving drivers stranded on the side of the road.
Fall Driving Tips
The fall is gorgeous in the PNW, but it also brings changing weather conditions, darker morning and evening commutes, and hazards associated with leaves on the roads.
Here are some fall driving tips to keep you safe on the roads as the leaves begin to change:
- Drive slowly over leaves; they can make the road slippery and it’s difficult to see potholes and bumps.
- If you encounter fog, set your headlights to low beam to increase visibility.
- Watch carefully for children playing in piles of leaves on the side of the road.
- Keep your windshield clear of leaves to avoid them getting stuck in your wipers.
- Take extra precautions on and around Halloween, when children may be on the road and wearing costumes that limit their ability to see cars.
- If you live in a suburban or rural area, watch for deer; fall is an active breeding time for them and they’re more likely to run out into the road.
Winter Driving Tips
Winter brings obvious driving concerns, including ice, sleet, snow, and hail, as well as fewer daylight hours and lower visibility. During the winter, it’s especially important to be careful during the festive holidays, when distracted and drunk driving are very common. In fact, the winter holidays are some of the most dangerous days of the year to drive.
Here are some important Oregon winter driving tips to follow:
- Put chains on your tires if it’s snowy or icy, and keep some in your car if snow or freezing rain is expected.
- Always check road conditions in your area before you head out.
- Pack an emergency kit and phone charger in case you get stuck in the snow.
- Drive slower and more cautiously in icy conditions and brake earlier than you normally would.
- Never brake and turn at the same time when driving on slippery roads.
- Know what to do in the event of an accident.
Driving Through These Weather Conditions
Regardless of what the calendar says, bad weather can hit you when you least expect it. It’s important to be prepared for the following weather conditions at all times:
Driving in ice or snow is notoriously hazardous. Avoid it if you can. If you need to drive in the snow, drive slowly and carefully! Improve visibility by keeping your windows clear (including the back), turning up the defroster, and keeping your headlights clean and working.
Always brake cautiously and deliberately in the snow to avoid lock-up, and resist the urge to “floor it” to get yourself unstuck. Instead, straighten your wheels and then slowly accelerate.
Hail can be like a light freezing rain or extremely powerful. If a hailstorm hits while you’re driving, conditions can get very bad very quickly. If you can, get to a safe place and pull over until the hail stops.
If possible, keep your car angled so the hail is directed at your windshield. Windshields are made of reinforced glass to withstand impact, so the hail is less likely to cause damage.
Natives in the PNW are pretty used to driving in the rain, but it’s still a hazard on the roads that can seriously limit visibility and lead to unnecessary accidents. Keep your wipers maintained, and replace them every six to twelve months. Always use your headlights in the rain and keep your windows clear by turning on the defroster.
Be patient, drive slowly and cautiously, and always go around large puddles and flooded roadways.
Sleet can be very dangerous because ice is not always visible beneath slush, and when the ice begins to melt and then refreezes, roads can become extremely hazardous.
Accelerate cautiously, leave lots of space between you and other vehicles or objects, and break slowly but deliberately. Be careful changing lanes and give yourself lots of extra space. Take extra precautions on bridges and overpasses.
The sunny summer months are actually some of the most dangerous times to be on the road. The sun can shine directly in your eyes or reflect off of other vehicles or surfaces and impair your vision.
When possible, try to avoid driving during the hours when the sun is low in the sky, and most likely to shine in your eyes. Invest in an effective, UV-blocking pair of sunglasses and use the sun visors in your car. You can also consider having your car’s windows tinted to help block the sun.
What if you get in an accident?
Weather conditions change throughout the seasons, but there are always hazards on the roads. Keeping your car well maintained and driving carefully can help you avoid collisions. Unfortunately, even with precautions, accidents still happen. It’s important to be prepared in the event you’re involved in a crash.
Mackin’s Auto Body offers superior quality repairs for any type of auto body damage. We’re the best in the business when it comes to collision repairs. Whether your car needs extensive work following a serious accident or you’re just looking for basic repairs to keep your car running, we’re up to the job! Our mechanics are experienced and dedicated to providing the highest quality of work and service.
We understand how stressful accidents can be. We offer comprehensive accident resources, work directly with insurance providers, and will get you back on the road as quickly as possible. Contact us online or stop by one of our 9 locations in the PNW today!