April Showers May Bring Car Accidents
How to Drive During Pittsburgh's Rainy Season
Most of us happily celebrate the arrival of spring after a long Pennsylvania winter. While spring brings higher temperatures and budding flowers, unfortunately it also brings the rainy season to the Pittsburgh area.
Rain, fog, and weather-worn roadways are all hazards that come with the rainy season. So, buckle-up and get ready to ride out the rain and other unfavorable spring conditions with these tricks for driving during Pittsburgh's rainy season.
Your risk of being involved in a car accident is two to three times greater in rainy conditions than in dry weather. The most important rule of driving in the rain is to slow down. The majority of accidents that happen in the rain are caused by drivers traveling too fast for the weather conditions.
And you don't have to be going over the posted speed limit to be driving recklessly in the rain. One safety expert maintains that "if you're on slippery road and it's a posted speed limit of 55, if you're going 40, you may be going too fast."
Essential Tips for Driving in the Rain:
- Avoid driving through large puddles when possible.
- Splashing other vehicles makes them temporarily sightless.
- Driving through puddles can also cause your vehicle to hydroplane.
- Hydroplaning can occur when a vehicle drives over pooled water on a roadway. The lack of friction on the slick surface can lift tires off the road, causing a car to skid uncontrollably.
- If you start hydroplaning, release the gas and steer straight until you regain traction, and tap the brake if necessary.
- Try to allow extra time for your travels so you aren't driving fast to make up time.
- Brake sooner and more gradually than you would in dry conditions.
- A slick roadway seriously decreases your tires' friction on the pavement.
And remember to turn on your headlights—it's the law. According to PA law, a driver must turn on headlights when using windshield wipers continuously or at intervals in response to rain, snow, sleet, fog, mist or other weather condition. This is considered a primary offense, which means violating the law is cause enough for a driver to be pulled over by law enforcement. This can result in a $25 ticket, but after factoring in fees and other costs, the total can be about $100.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHA), fog is one of the most dangerous types of weather conditions for driving.
Essential Tips for Driving in Fog:
- Reduce your speed, but always keep an eye on your speedometer.
- Since fog greatly distorts perception, drivers are often unable to determine their speed.
- If your visibility is reduced, open your window slightly to listen for oncoming traffic.
- Turn on your four-way flashers in severe conditions.
- Keep your low beam lights on, high beams reflect back off of the fog and can impair vision even more.
- If you're unable to see the road up ahead, a good rule of thumb is to follow the white line. Keep your car in line with the white line on the right edge of the roadway.
The Pothole Problem
One of the biggest problems for roadways during the spring is the increase in potholes. These gaping road craters are problematic on a sunny day, but turn incredibly dangerous in the rain.
When a pothole is filled with water from a recent rainstorm, the reflective surface makes it difficult to tell the depth, so destructive potholes may look less threatening in the rain. The freeze-thaw cycle that occurs in the early spring only makes the problem worse by expanding the size and depth of potholes virtually overnight.
Potholes can cause damage to your suspension and car accidents. Consult our Ultimate Guide to Pittsburgh Potholes for how to deal with these depressing depressions.
The best offense against dangerous spring weather conditions is a good defense. Tune up your car in the spring to defend against the possible damage that rain, fog, and pothole-ridden roadways can cause.
- Replace your windshield wipers after a long winter.
- Windshield wipers should be replaced about every six months. Worn out wiper blades cannot effectively clear water and dirt off your windshield.
- Treat your car to some spring cleaning.
- Washing your car removes all the built up snow, salt and chemicals that might have splashed onto and underneath your vehicle during the winter.
- Check the tread on your tires.
- It may be time to switch those worn-out snow tires to all-season ones.
Unfortunately, taking preventative steps can't always stop accidents from happening. Sometimes dangerous road conditions can cause car accidents. If you're ever injured in a car accident, it's critical to call us immediately before valuable evidence disappears. That's why we make it easy to contact us—our phones answer 24/7 or feel free to fill out our form online. Don't forget, you can also chat with one of our legal professionals live by clicking on the box in the bottom right hand corner of this page.
“5 Hazards to Watch for When the Roads Start to Thaw.” Howstuffworks.com. March 27, 2015.