Winter is finally over, taking snow and ice with it. While it may make driving easier, it also brings some new risks from animals, motorcycles and allergies. Here are some ways you can make driving safer this spring.
Know When to Switch Tires
There’s a good chance that you’re making the switch from winter to summer tires far sooner than you should. We usually think of winter tires as a way to improve traction on ice and snow, but they also improve cold weather performance by using tread compounds that stay pliable at low temperatures. Summer and all-season tires aren’t able to outperform winter rubber until temperatures are consistently above 45ºF, which doesn’t happen around here until at least mid-April.
Be Wary of Rain
After dealing with winter roads, driving seems easy after everything thaws out. However, that doesn’t mean you’re fully out of danger. Monthly rainfall averages in this area are 50% higher from April to August, creating slick roads that reduce traction in corners and can quadruple stopping distances. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that almost half of all weather-related crashes are caused by rain, out-pacing snow, and ice. When roads are wet, slow down and give yourself extra time to react and brake, just like you would when driving in winter. You should also avoid areas with standing water: there’s no telling how deep it is or what could be hiding under the surface.
Look Out for Animals
Higher temperature and fresh grass bring out animals ranging from turtles to deer. While they can pop up at any time of day or night, most activity occurs an hour before and after dawn. Keep an eye out for woodland creatures and try to plan around these peak times. Pay close attention to animal crossing signs: these are placed in areas where animal-related accidents have occurred.
Protecting Your Car from Potholes
Freezing and fluctuating temperatures break apart pavement, leaving a batch of fresh potholes each spring. Keep your eyes out for these rim benders and steer around them if possible. If you keep your tires aired up to the recommended pressure, the air can cushion the blow, reducing the chance you’ll have of damaging a wheel.
Plan for Construction
Speaking of potholes, now that the snow and ice have gone away, construction crews will be out in force to repair road damage and continue long-term projects. Navigation apps and the D.O.T.’s own 511 Wisconsin app can help you keep on top of construction so you can plan ahead, giving yourself extra time and using alternate routes.
Look Out for Bicyclists and Motorcyclists
We’re used to looking out for cars, which can keep us from paying attention to smaller vehicles that appear on the road when temperatures warm up. Remind yourself that bikes and motorcycles are out on the road when checking your mirrors and pay close attention to blind spots where vehicles may hide.
Remember that while two-wheeled vehicles can turn and stop well, they’re not good at doing both at the same time. Likewise, wet roads, gravel and even leaves and grass clippings can make handling difficult, further limiting control. Leaving some extra space for them can be the difference between a safe ride and a lethal accident.
Be Wary of Allergy Medications
There’s a reason most allergy medications carry the label “do not drive or operate heavy machinery.” Drowsiness is common with these drugs, and even if you’re used to taking medicine to deal with spring allergies, it can take your body time to adjust after being off them for a while. If you can, start taking these medications at times when you don’t need to drive so you know how your body will react.
Even Safe Drivers Can Be Involved in Accidents
No matter how well you drive, accidents are sometimes unavoidable. If you’ve been in an accident, visit Merton Auto Body for collision repair. Our staff is ASE-certified, and we’re an I-CAR Gold Class certified shop, which means we have the latest training and tools to repair your vehicle. Need to make a policy claim? Our auto body estimation center and on-staff appraiser will work with your insurance company, so your car can be repaired as soon as possible. Stop by our website to request a free online estimate or visit us at our convenient Sussex, WI location. We proudly service the Lake Country and Waukesha County areas including Delafield, Hartland, Pewaukee, and Oconomowoc.