Maryland Foul Weather Driving Safety Tips : Stay Off the Road, and If You Must Drive – Prepare First, and Drive Defensively

Hurricane Sandy showed us how quickly weather conditions can go from bad to worse to downright dangerous on Baltimore County, Maryland roadways. Despite weather forecasts and state advisories for motorists to stay off the roads, there are always a few souls who venture out onto the roads into a storm. The combination of wind, rain, water soaked roads, downed trees and power lines, and motorists rushing to get home is a recipe for disaster.

Baltimore County, MD car accident lawyers like us advocate for families when a motor vehicle accident with injury or death happens. We’ve heard so many sad “if only” stories. “If only we hadn’t gone out that night.…” “If only he’d slowed down.…” “If only we’d taken a different route.…” The best driving tip for Maryland motorists facing a hurricane or winter storm is stay off the roads. Not only are you putting yourself and other motorists at risk – you may be getting in the way of emergency vehicles attempting to clear roads, repair power lines and assist injured or stranded people.

If you absolutely must drive in foul Maryland weather, drive slowly and defensively. Listen to news reports and plan the safest route possible. You do not want to become part of a sea of cars stranded in a flood or snowstorm. Hurricanes create flooding and ponding on roads that can cause cars to “hydroplane” – that is skidding on top of a film of water. This is a nerve-wracking experience for anyone who’s ever lost control of their car on slick roads, even briefly. Hydroplaning vehicles can leave their lanes and cause head-on collisions and other serious auto accidents.

A number of driving safety websites (see links below) offer tips for drivers to get through bad weather conditions on the road. It’s worth a read to prepare for a situation that calls for a calm, controlled response. Whether driving in a rain storm, a hurricane, or snow storm in Maryland, some very basic driving and auto maintenance tips apply:

–Drive slowly and defensively, especially around curves. Maryland motorists rushing to get home in a storm, particularly on our winding back country roads, can lose control taking curves too fast.

–If you skid or hydroplane, don’t panic. Yes, this is easier said than done. Read the driving safety tips below to learn more about how to safely steer and brake during a skid or while hydroplaning.

–Keep tires well maintained. Your tires are the rubber than come between you and the roadways in Maryland. Keep them properly inflated and rotated per the manufacturer’s recommendation. Watch for signs of wear and replace old tires.

–Keep brakes well maintained. Anti-lock brake systems (ABS) have greatly enhanced auto safety. If you firmly apply your ABS brakes during a skid, the computerized programming will pump the brakes for you in a controlled manner designed to safely slow the car down. Like tires, brakes are only as good as the maintenance that keeps them in good repair and functioning.

–Replace worn windshield wiper blades. This small piece of automotive equipment makes a big difference if you’re trying to see through sheets of rain. Replace wiper blades that are beginning to fray at the ends.

The foul weather season in Maryland has started off rough with Hurricane Sandy. There could be more bad storms this fall, and we have a long winter ahead of us. Keep your cars and trucks well maintained and drive defensively.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

Baltimore County Winter Driving Safety : Is Your Car a Moving Igloo After a Maryland Snow Storm? (Jan. 2011)

Car Accidents with Farm Equipment on Public Roads in Maryland: When Lifestyles and Vehicles Collide (Dec. 2010)


Driving Safety Tips: Skidding and Hydroplaning in Rainy Conditions
The Weather Channel
Driving in Bad Weather
Tips for Safe Driving
Maryland Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA)

Maryland Traffic Information
Federal Highway Administration

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