Cop On The Corner

Dangers of Spring Driving

By Officer Paul J. Gorman

Winter may be known for treacherous driving conditions, but spring driving can present its own dangerous situations, from wind and rain to wildlife waking up from hibernation. Follow these spring safe driving tips to help you prepare for spring’s driving challenges.

Spring rain brings slippery road conditions and flooding. According to the Federal Highway Administration, rain was a culprit in 46 percent of all weather-related crashes from 2002 to 2012, and wet pavement in general accounted for 74 percent of collisions.

What makes rain and wet pavement so dangerous? For one, slippery roads reduce your car’s handling and increase the distance it takes to stop (up to four times more than normal stopping distance). Big puddles can also cut down on tire traction and could lead to hydroplaning. The first few rainy days of spring can produce exceptionally slippery roads due to oil and other leaked fluids mixing with rainwater, so slow down and increase your stopping distance when it’s raining. Motorists are also reminded that RI law requires the use of headlights during inclement (rainy) weather. This improves your ability to see objects, and also improves the ability of other motorists to see you. If your wipers are on, then your headlights should also be on.

Animals are incredibly active during the spring. Some are emerging from hibernation, and others are entering mating season. This could mean that more animals are crossing streets and roaming around. Many animals, especially deer, are most active at dawn or dusk.

Be prepared to share the road with bicyclists as they also begin to come out of hibernation. They have the same rights as other vehicles on most roads. Driving alongside cyclists can make traffic maneuvers, from turning right to parallel parking, more dangerous. When weather improves, expect more pedestrians, especially in residential, shopping, and recreational areas.

More Safety Tips

Spring is the perfect time to visit your mechanic. Check fluid levels, tire pressure, tire treads, suspension system, and brakes to help reduce risk of a breakdown.
Motorcycle season starts in spring. Watch for motorcycles at intersections and in your blind spots when passing or merging.
When snow melts, road repairs begin. Slow down and be aware of road and traffic conditions when entering work zones.
There may be days in early spring when temperatures still drop below freezing, which can lead to slippery roads. Reduce speed and increase following distance if driving in slippery conditions.

Seasonal showers, migrating animals, and poor road conditions can create unpleasant complications out on the road. Use the above tips to your advantage and you’ll be that much more prepared for any seasonal driving dangers that come your way.