A couple of months ago, in February 2017, a semi-truck driving on a highway got caught in high winds and toppled over, landing on top of an unoccupied police cruiser. Fox News reported that the truck driver drove the semi after ignoring a high wind advisory banning commercial vehicles from that particular area of the highway, close to nearby Elk Mountain. Wyoming Highway Patrol Lieutenant Kelly Finn said that wind speeds were close to 70 m.p.h. at the time of the accident.
While Michigan isn't currently experiencing such a magnitude of winds, forecasts expect thunderstorms for the rest of the week. This week's thunderstorms could deter Michiganders from driving to the beach or relaxing out on the porch. The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC would therefore like to take the time to remind Michigan motorists how they can safely drive in severe weather conditions, including high winds and heavy rain.
Safety Tips for Driving In High Winds and Storms
In bouts of extreme weather, the first safety precaution drivers can take is to remain in a specific location, such as home, and avoid driving in dangerous situations completely.
If venturing out into the bad weather is unavoidable, the Defensive Drivers Team suggests that drivers check local weather reports and take note of any high winds, blizzard, flooding, or other extreme weather advisories that have been issued in the areas they plan to drive in.
When driving in a storm, motorists should remember to pay close attention to the road. Drivers may better focus on the road by turning down the radio, silencing or ignoring cell phones, and properly securing any pets in the vehicle so they don't cause a disturbance. Minimizing these distractions keeps drivers alert for instances in which storm debris or trees may be blown into the driver's path. Drivers should also remember to keep their headlights on since storms typically darken the sky.
In addition, drivers should give large vehicles such as semi-trucks, tractors, RVs, and buses more space, as these vehicles may be more difficult to control in extreme weather. No one can anticipate sudden gusts of wind, so driving slower than normal and making lots of extra space for other motorists on the road may help ensure motorist safety. Drivers should also take safer, local routes and avoid speedy highways, rocky terrain, and routes through infrastructure such as tunnels and overpasses, which can potentially be damaged during storms.
As for driving in windy weather, head and tail winds, or winds coming from the front and back of a vehicle, are not too difficult to deal with. A slight adjustment in speed or acceleration may allow the driver to compensate for these winds. On the other hand, side winds are the ones that create the most trouble for drivers. If strong enough, these winds can blow a vehicle off course. In the event that a driver finds themselves caught in a side wind, they should remember to not panic or move the car too abruptly if they feel the vehicle being pushed in the other direction, and instead move smoothly and gently to stay on the road.
Tips For Driving In Heavy Rain
High winds and storms also bring precipitation. Heavy rainfall or a large snow melt may cause puddles to form, many with depths too hard to judge from behind the steering wheel. RAC, a British automotive service company, warns, "If it’s clearly too deep for your car, find another way to your destination." Drivers might find themselves in a harrowing position if driving through a puddle that is particularly deep and may cause their car to float. Water can also cause a vehicle to stall or breakdown. It is important to ignore the urge to try and crank the vehicle back to life in order to avoid further damaging the engine. Instead, drivers should wait for a professional to arrive and attend to the vehicle. This might even serve as an alarm for other drivers to follow safety tips to possibly avoid a serious car accident.
With the looming threat of thunderstorms in Michigan this week, drivers and passengers are encouraged to follow these extreme weather safety tips to stay safe and help prevent an accident like the one which occurred in Wyoming. It is difficult to predict what the sky will do next, but motorists should practice driving safely in extreme weather, in order to reach their destinations before the next lightning bolt hits.
All motorists could benefit from paying attention to the road and heeding wind and storm advisories this summer. If you or a loved one have ever been in a car accident, caused by extreme weather conditions, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC today. Call 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation with an experienced attorney, today.