Staying Safe When You Drive This Spring

Staying Safe When You Drive This Spring

Winter driving may be coming to an end, but the spring thaw brings new challenges to driving. These tips will help you avoid collisions caused by road work, rain, deer, other drivers, and your own medication.

Road Work

Road work starts back up in the spring, leading to delays and increased driving dangers for both drivers and road workers. Whether you’re on the Waukesha bypass or passing by pothole repairs, a little preparation can help you avoid delays and surprises. Wisconsin DOT has its own 411 app that lets you see current construction delays, and there are apps like Google Maps and Waze that have real-time traffic reporting.

41% of lethal crashes in work zones involve rear-end collisions, compared to just 16% on normal roadways. By knowing about construction ahead of time and keeping an eye on road signs, you can decrease the chance of hitting another car. If you’re at the end of a traffic line, turn on your hazard lights so drivers behind you know you’re stopped.

Rain 

Rain may not seem like a big deal after dealing with a season of ice and snow, but it causes more than 50% of all weather-related accidents across the country.

Tire treads channel water away from the tread surface, so your tire can contact the road. If the treads are less than 4/32” deep, they won’t be able to keep up with oncoming water. To check the tread depth, place a quarter in the tread with the head of George Washington facing the tire. If part of his head is covered, it’s time to get new tires. Even with good tires, you can expect traction to be reduced by about 1/3 compared to dry weather driving. That means you should give yourself a third more stopping distance and keep your speed a third lower on curves. Also, be wary of standing water, which can hide potholes and other dangers.

The effectiveness of driving aids can vary during storms. Adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning systems have trouble sensing obstacles in the rain. Lane keep assist has a similar problem, but if it works, it can help bring your car back in line if it loses grip. Traction and anti-skid controls will also help your car keep its grip on the road.

If your car starts to hydroplane, the steering will feel light as the tires lose their grip. When this happens, don’t turn the wheel. Instead, brake lightly. This will transfer more weight to the front of the vehicle, pushing down on the wheels to restore steering.

Deer 

This is the worst possible time and place for deer collisions: Wisconsin has more deer-related accidents than any other state, Lake Country is one of the worst areas in the state for deer encounters, and deer are most active in the spring. Each year, 15%-18% of crashes in this state involved deer, and those accidents result in over 400 injuries and 10-15 deaths.

You should be wary of deer under all driving conditions, but there are times when you’ll be at greater risk:

– If you see a deer crossing sign, it means you’re in an area that has already had several deer-related accidents.
– Deer accidents are most common from sundown to dawn with the greatest amount of activity occurring one hour before sunrise.
– Deer travel in packs, so if you see one, expect others to follow.

Cyclists and Motorcyclists 

Riders will be taking their bicycles and motorcycles out of storage when the weather warms up, adding a new wrinkle to defensive driving. These two-wheelers can turn and brake quickly, but they can’t do both at the same time with near the effectiveness of a car. Their small contact patches and inherent instability also make it easier for them to lose grip on soft and slick surfaces including gravel and wet asphalt. When driving near these vehicles, it’s a good idea to increase your distance.

Seasonal Allergies and Medications

Mold springs to life as winter snow melts, followed by tree and flower pollen. As a result, many drivers turn to allergy medicines, but these can cause drowsiness, leading to inattentive and dangerous driving. If you need to use these medicines, start them at a time you have little to no driving to do to let your body adjust. To keep allergens at bay in your car, keep your windows up and make sure your cabin filter is clean.

When You Have an Accident, Get it Repaired Right 

When you need collision repair in Waukesha County, go to Merton Auto Body. Our shop is I-CAR Gold Class certified, so we have the latest tools and techniques for body repair, and we’re also a preferred body shop for most major insurance companies. Our auto body shop is located a few miles west of 164-S in Sussex, just a short drive from Pewaukee, North Lake, and Hartland.

 

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