Navigating Severe Weather Season: The Everyday Driver’s Guide to Safety

October 2nd, 2023 by

The world is changing, and so is the weather. Severe weather events are becoming more frequent and intense, posing significant challenges for drivers on the road. Whether it’s heavy rain, floods, lightning, hailstorms, or wind events, understanding how to respond can mean the difference between a safe and perilous journey.

Understanding how to drive in severe weather could mean the difference between a safe and perilous journey.

Mount Airy Toyota has put together this guide to equip you with the most critical information and strategies for staying safe when Mother Nature unleashes her fury on the road. Let’s start with some practical tips before getting into more details:

Heavy Rain and Flooding

Driving in heavy rain reduces visibility and causes slippery roads, a treacherous combination that increases the risk of accidents. Here’s what you should do:

  • Slow down: Reduce your speed to match road conditions. Hydroplaning becomes a risk when driving too fast on wet roads.
  • Increase your following distance. Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you; stopping distances increase on wet roads.
  • Use headlights. Turn on your headlights, even during the day, to improve your visibility and help others see you.
  • Avoid puddles. Don’t drive through standing water or flooded areas; it’s hard to judge the depth, and your car can get stuck or swept away.
  • Stay informed. Keep an eye on weather reports and road closures. Consider delaying your trip if conditions worsen.

Lightning and Thunderstorms

There’s nothing fun about driving in a thunderstorm, but following these tips can help you stay safe:

  • Pull over. If possible, find a safe place to pull over and wait for the storm to pass. Avoid parking under trees or tall structures.
  • Stay in the vehicle. Your car provides some protection from lightning strikes. Keep the windows up and avoid touching metal surfaces inside the vehicle.
  • Turn on your hazards. Push that double-triangle to make your vehicle more visible to other drivers.
  • Listen to weather updates. Tune into local radio or use a weather app to monitor the storm’s progress.

Hailstorms

Hail can cause significant damage to your vehicle. When you encounter a hailstorm, be sure to:

  • Find shelter. Seek a sturdy shelter, like a gas station or parking garage.
  • Protect your vehicle. If shelter isn’t available, cover your car with a blanket or car cover to minimize hail damage.
  • Reduce speed. Slow down to avoid losing control on slippery roads created by hail accumulation.
  • Wait to drive. Listen to weather updates to know when it’s safe to resume your journey.

Wind Events

It’s not talked about as much as some other severe weather conditions, but high winds can make driving challenging, especially for high-profile vehicles like trucks and RVs. Follow these guidelines:

  • Maintain control. Keep both hands on the wheel and maintain a firm grip to counteract gusts of wind.
  • Reduce your speed. Slow down to reduce the impact of wind on your vehicle’s stability.
  • Avoid overtaking. Don’t attempt to pass large vehicles because wind can make them less predictable.
  • Beware of debris. Remain alert for flying debris on the road, and steer clear of it.

Severe weather season demands extra caution from drivers. Staying informed, adjusting your driving habits, and knowing when to seek shelter are crucial for staying safe. The takeaway is that your safety and the safety of others on the road should always be your top priority. Be prepared, stay vigilant, and drive responsibly.

Toyota Safety for the Win

Nothing is more important than safety when it comes to purchasing a new car. Fortunately, Toyota has a reputation for providing its drivers with cutting-edge safety features.

From built-in cameras that help you keep your car in the lane to industry-leading braking systems, the newest Toyota models are at the forefront of car safety. In fact, Toyota provides its Safety Sense package as standard across most of its lineup.

Pre-Collision System

This is one of the key features of Toyota Safety Sense. It’s an advanced system designed to detect and prevent potential collisions. Equipped with a Pedestrian Detection function, the pre-collision feature uses cameras and radar to identify pedestrians before alerting you if you’re about to hit someone.

Blind Spot Monitor

The newest Toyota models come with a Blind Spot Monitor that uses radars mounted on the rear bumper to detect other cars in your blind spot. The system issues visual and audio warnings when cars are in your blind spot, making it easier to change lanes safely.

Lane Departure Alert

The Lane Departure Alert helps you to stay in your lane by warning you if you start to veer out of it. The system sends signals to alert you when it detects you drifting out of your lane, helping you avoid dangerous collisions.

Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control

Toyota’s Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control automatically adjusts your speed to maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. It’s particularly useful on highways where speeds can fluctuate suddenly and often.

Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control

Toyota’s Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control helps you maintain vehicle control in the event of sudden turns or other difficult driving situations. The system can automatically apply the brakes or reduce engine power to help keep your car on the road and out of danger.

The latest Toyota models come equipped with a range of advanced safety features that have been designed to keep you and your passengers safe on the road. The Toyota Safety Sense system is one of the most comprehensive and effective safety packages on the market today. If you’re looking for the ultimate in automotive safety, connect with Mount Airy Toyota to view our new and certified pre-owned options!

Is Your Vehicle Ready for Severe Weather?

Before hitting the road during severe weather, it’s crucial to ensure your car or truck is in optimal condition to handle the challenges that Mother Nature may throw your way. Here are 11 essential checks to determine if your vehicle is safe for severe weather:

  1. Use the “penny test” or a tread depth gauge to confirm your tires meet the minimum tread depth requirement (typically 2/32”). Adequate tire tread is essential for maintaining traction on wet and slippery roads. While you’re at it, check your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure and ensure all the tires are properly inflated.
  2. Make sure your brake pads and rotors are in good condition. Spongy or unresponsive brakes can be dangerous, especially in wet conditions.
  3. Confirm that all your lights are working correctly; proper lighting is crucial for visibility during heavy rain, fog, or storms.
  4. Have your vehicle’s battery tested to ensure it’s in good health, especially if it’s been a while since your last inspection. Cold weather and heavy electrical use during storms can strain it.
  5. Check for any cracks or damage to your windshield. A compromised windshield can shatter more easily during impacts. Also, make sure your wiper blades are in good condition and effectively clear rain or debris from your windshield. Replace them if they streak or leave streaks.
  6. Ensure that all the fluid levels (e.g., oil, transmission fluid, coolant, etc.) are within the recommended range. Adequate fluids help your engine run smoothly in extreme weather.
  7. Pack an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes a flashlight, first-aid supplies, blankets, non-perishable food, water, a tool kit, and other essentials.
  8. If your vehicle is equipped with four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), check that these systems are functioning correctly. They can be invaluable during slippery or challenging driving conditions.
  9. Make sure your traction and stability control systems are operational. They can assist in maintaining control during sudden maneuvers in adverse weather.
  10. Keep up with routine maintenance, such as oil changes and inspections, to catch and address potential issues before they become major problems.
  11. Take your vehicle for a test drive in a safe area to ensure everything feels and functions as it should. Listen for any unusual noises and pay attention to how your vehicle handles.

You’ll be better prepared to navigate severe weather with confidence by performing these checks and staying proactive about your vehicle’s maintenance. If you have any doubts about your vehicle’s readiness for severe weather, consult a trusted mechanic for a thorough inspection and necessary repairs.

How To Break Out of a Submerged Car

Imagine the unthinkable: Your car has veered off the road and plunged into deep water. In such a dire situation, it’s vital to remain calm, as panic can cloud your judgment and waste precious seconds. The first step to escaping a submerged vehicle is to unbuckle your seatbelt immediately to prepare for your escape.

Next, try to open a window as quickly as possible. If your car has electric windows, be aware that they may fail as the vehicle begins to sink, so act swiftly. If the windows won’t open, you must resort to using a specialized car window-breaking tool or any hard, pointed object (e.g., a screwdriver, a steel-tipped umbrella, metal prongs of a headrest, etc.) to break the glass. Aim for the corners or edges of the window since that’s where the glass is weakest.

Moreover, let a small amount of water into the car before attempting to open the door; doing so will equalize the pressure inside and outside so it’s easier to open the door. Once the pressure is balanced, open the door slowly and exit the vehicle. If you have passengers, help them exit before you. And swim to the surface as quickly as possible.

What To Do If Your Car Is Hit by a Tree

Encountering a falling tree while driving can be a terrifying experience. In such a situation, it’s imperative to stay calm, take a deep breath, and assess the scene. After confirming that neither you nor your passengers are harmed, activate your hazard lights to alert other drivers to the accident.

If it’s safe to do so, carefully exit your vehicle while being cautious of any fallen branches or debris that may pose additional risks. Once outside, inspect your car for damage. If the tree has fallen onto the vehicle but you can exit safely, it’s crucial to stay clear of it since it might have caused structural damage to the car.

Promptly contact the authorities to report the incident, especially if the fallen tree is blocking the road and needs to be removed. Try to take pictures of the scene for insurance purposes.

Keep in mind that you should seek medical attention even if you don’t immediately feel injured. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent but could manifest later.

Keeping the Right Emergency Equipment as Parents

Ensuring the safety and well-being of your children while on the road is a top priority. Storing specific safety and emergency equipment in your car can help you do just that. Some of the essentials include:

  • A car seat or booster seat that meets your child’s age, height, and weight requirements.
  • A well-stocked first-aid kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, scissors, and any necessary medications or medical supplies specific to your child’s needs.
  • Non-perishable snacks and bottled water to ensure your child has access to food and hydration in case of unexpected delays or emergencies.
  • Blankets and extra clothing that are suitable for the current weather conditions.
  • A list of important emergency contacts, including pediatricians, family members, and friends who can be reached if needed.
  • A dedicated window breaker and seatbelt cutter tool so you can quickly free your child from the vehicle.
  • A flashlight with extra batteries for providing illumination in the dark or signaling for help.
  • Reflective triangles or flares to alert other drivers to your presence in case of a breakdown or accident.
  • Child comfort items such as blankets, stuffed animals, or toys to keep your child calm and distracted during stressful situations.
  • Entertainment (e.g., books, coloring materials, or electronic devices with headphones, etc.) to occupy your child’s attention.

Remember to regularly check the expiration dates on items like car seats and first-aid supplies, and periodically review and update your emergency equipment to ensure it’s in good condition and suitable for your child’s evolving needs.

Being well-prepared can provide peace of mind and keep everyone safe while traveling. Don’t wait to grab the necessary equipment, and contact Mount Airy Toyota to schedule an inspection today!

Posted in Car Care