The Murphy Monitor

Stay Safe - Tips for Driving in Extreme Weather

Posted on: 29-09-2017 by: The Murphy Insurance Group

The road can be dangerous at the best of times. When the weather goes crazy, though, it can become even more so. Here are a few dangerous situations and what you should do:

1. Lightning storms and heavy rains. If you have an older car, your car will form a faraday cage and protect you. Modern fiberglass cars and convertibles do not offer this protection, and lightning can instead get into the metal parts of your car. If lightning is close or severe, then pull over, turn the engine off and turn off all electricity. Leave hazard lights on only if you feel the risk of being hit by another vehicle is greater. You are still safer inside your vehicle than outside, so stay in the vehicle until the storm is over.

2. Flash floods. According to the National Weather Service, 75 people died a year in flash floods between 2004 and 2013. Two-thirds of these fatalities were in vehicles (excluding those from major hurricanes). Never drive your car into flood water - even if you are driving an SUV. You may think you know the depth - but the road underneath may have been washed out. If you do end up in a floating vehicle, find a pocket of trapped air then slowly roll down a window, or break it, and swim clear. Also, do not walk through flood water either.

3. Tornados. If you can see the tornado coming, get out of its way. Head for the nearest truck stop or restaurant, leave your car and go inside and into a basement or interior room. Bathrooms generally have no windows. If you can determine its movement, drive at a right angle and you may be able to just let it pass. If the tornado is imminent, keep your seatbelt on and protect your face, with a blanket if possible. Never shelter under an overpass - it can turn into a wind tunnel very quickly.

4. Blizzards. Avoid traveling if possible. If you have to, make sure you put cat litter or sand in your car, carry jumper cables, blankets, and food and water. Drive slowly and do not accelerate or brake suddenly. Absolutely do not use cruise control - it can't avoid slippery spots. If you do get stuck, make sure to clear snow from the tailpipe, run the engine briefly every ten minutes and stay in the vehicle.

Driving in inclement weather is best avoided in the first place - but if you can't, then follow these tips to keep yourself safe.

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