Whether you’re avoiding that guy who is too important to use a turn signal or the heavy rains and winds of a thunderstorm, driving can be dangerous.
Working in Miami, I would spend an hour sitting in traffic every day. I passed the majority of that time focused on one thing: getting from point A to point B in one piece. That can be hard even on a sunny day in South Florida because I’m convinced that the worst drivers in the world live here. But what’s worse is trying to avoid them while also driving in a full-on tropical storm. I’ve done it and, thankfully, I’m still here today to talk about it.
These safe driving trips were learned the hard way--by experience. Use them to stay safe in driving rains, freezing winters, even hot, super sunny days. Yes, the sun can be a driving challenge too!
Safe Driving Tips for the Driving Rain
1. Slow Down!
“Singin’ in the Rain” will always be one of my favorites, but when I’m driving in the rain I definitely don’t feel like singing. I focus all my attention on the road and slow down. Don’t feel pressured to drive the posted speed limits, because those are made for perfect weather and road conditions.
2. Use Headlights, But Not Brights
I wear contacts, and if I don’t have them in, I’m basically blind. It’s the same feeling as being on the road in a downpour. Everything is blurry. The best way to clear things up is to switch on the headlights. This helps you to see other cars and helps other drivers to see you. Sidenote: Don’t use the brights! They reflect off the water, blinding you and others.
3. Skip the Cruise Control
As an American, I do love using cruise control. My foot gets tired on long drives. But it’s really dangerous to be a lazy driver on a rainy day. Skip the cruise control – and avoid the wreck that would come with it if the car hydroplanes.
Safe Driving Tips for Beating the Heat
4. Keep Your Car Cool Too
Living in south Florida, 90% of my year is spent red-faced, sweat trickling, willing myself not to physically melt. Our cars feel the same way. Just like I enjoy the sweet refreshment of an iced green tea on a sweltering day, our cars need fluids too. Coolant is a major one. Here’s a video on how to check it yourself:
5. Check Your Tire Pressure
I have literally fried an egg on a sidewalk before. That’s how hot the cement gets. And our tires are driving on that. An under-inflated tire causes tires to overheat. That, plus the extreme temperature of the streets, increases the chances of a blowout.
Safe Driving Tips for Ice and Snow
6. Clear Your Windows, the DIY Way!
OK, I know I don’t have room to talk down in Florida, but I did grow up in Louisville, Kentucky. I have had my fair share of Frozen scenes. Standing outside in the freezing cold, slowly hacking ice off the windshield, and convincing myself to “let it go.” Don’t be like Elsa. Make your own de-icer. Mix 1/3 water and 2/3 rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Whenever your windshield is fogged over (with ice or otherwise) spray this solution and watch the fog disappear. It’s that easy.
Read More: 2 More Great DIY Winter Ice-Fighting Tips.
7. Park Facing East
Let nature do the work for you. Whenever you can, park facing east. The sun rises in the east so it will start to melt the ice before you’re even awake. (Sorry if you’re an early riser).
8. Check Your Tire Tread
The electric slide is an amazing wedding reception dance, but it’s definitely not the right move in a car. Check your tire traction. Sufficient snow traction needs at least 6/32-inch deep tread.
9. Know How to Manage a Skid
If your tires do slip, avoid fishtailing like I did as a frightened, newly licensed driver. Ease off the gas to let the tires gain traction. Aim the steering wheel where the car is heading. Avoid over steering, and you’ll eventually re-gain control.
10. Pack an Emergency Kit
Storm clouds, breakups, blowouts, and series of unfortunate events happen any time, anywhere. The above tips can help to keep us safe, but they can’t stop the unpredictable. Always have an emergency kit in your trunk with these items:
- Jumper cables
- A flashlight
- Road flares
- Nonperishable food items
- A first aid kit