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Stay Safe When on the Road in Severe Weather

Scott Monge

With tornado season upon us, it’s likely drivers will encounter heavy rain, flooding or hail storms while on the road. Throughout the spring and summer, severe storms are not uncommon. When at home, residents can hunker down in basements and bathtubs, but what if you’re caught on the ride home from work when bad weather strikes?

If you’re behind the wheel in a sudden downpour of hail or forging across flooded roadways, it’s best to try and eliminate any risk of accident or injury and get off the road if conditions are bad enough. Pull off to the shoulder and away from any trees that may fall. Heavy rain greatly reduces visibility so be sure to turn on emergency flashers and remain in the vehicle with the windows up until the rain subsides. If possible, pull into a sturdy garage, parking deck or other covered shelter to avoid hail damage and turn on the radio to listen for storm updates.

Risk of lightning strikes is also a concern in thunderstorms. Nearby lightning strikes can travel through the wet ground to your car, so drivers should avoid contact with metal surfaces inside and outside the vehicle. Rubber tires don’t provide protection from lightning. And although it’s possible to be hurt if lighting hits your car, it’s much safer inside the vehicle than out.

While driving in inclement weather, turn on headlights, reduce your speed and allow extra distance between vehicles for braking. Avoid downed power lines, approach intersections with caution and after the storm, treat traffic lights as stop signs.

Most flood fatalities are caused by drivers attempting to cross flooded roadways. The depth of standing water can also be deceiving. Washed-out roadbeds can leave motorists stranded or trapped and rising water can even stall your engine or engulf your vehicle. Look out for highway dips, bridges and low areas to avoid flooded roadways. Just two feet of water is enough to carry away most vehicles.

Once the storm is over, inspect your vehicle for any damage. If there’s broken glass, carefully remove it from the vehicle and cover the damaged area to prevent any further water damage. If your car insurance covers hail damage, document the damage and get in touch with your insurance company.

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