Hazardous Road Conditions

Weather and the time of the year can cause hazardous road conditions. They can develop over time or at an instance. Here are a few of the most ignored hazardous road conditions.

Snow!

Ice and snow covered road

Snow covered roads are a big part of driving in the winter. It doesn't matter if you are on the East Coast or in the Midwest. Snow covered roads are dangerous. The East Coast can have very wet snows sometimes. The slush will build up and can make you lose control very fast. This is especially true if you are empty. This is the time to slow down and take your time.

Traffic Signal Safety tells you about all the hazards and things to look for when approaching a traffic signal.

If it is very cold and it is a dry snow, then it can pack a hard surface on the pavement. This is extremely slippery and stopping is very dangerous if you are empty. You are much better off to have a big load on. It will still be slippery, but you can stop easier and be in more control. Stopping suddenly when empty is virtually impossible. Just remember, it will take a much greater distance to stop. Slow down when driving in hazardous road conditions.

Road Oil!

Our cars and trucks deposit oil and grim on the roads constantly. Over a period of time without rain it builds up. Once it rains it becomes an oil slick. This causes very slippery road conditions. When it rains hard it actually washes the road surface.

Wet roads require added precautions. Especially when you drive an eighteen-wheeler. Stopping quickly is impossible with a big truck on wet or damp roads. If you have no weight on your wagon it is worse. Thank goodness for anti-braking system (ABS) on trucks and cars.

Not long ago I was pulling an older flat bed. It did not have ABS brakes on it. The roads were wet. It was causing hazardous road conditions. When I attempted to stop at a red light I realized the trailer was catching up to the tractor on the right. I was only going about 40 mph. It’s good there was a wide shoulder and curb. It all happened very fast, but I did get stopped. Of course, after this I was extremely cautious.

 

Black Ice!

Bridge Ices Before Road

Black Ice is worse because you can’t see it. It blends into the road surface. It forms when the outside temperature is at 32 degrees or below.

It usually occurs between sunset and sunrise. Bridges and shaded areas are more likely to contain black ice. The bridges are most dangerous because of cold air flowing under them. This keeps the road surface colder. This is an extreme hazardous road condition!

When driving in the mountains you may find black ice. It lurks where you least expect it.

 

Hazardous Road Conditions - Slow Down!

Slow Down Save A Life

Slowing down is the best thing to do. It may take a few minutes longer, but it will be worth it. The cost of an accident is not worth a few minutes.

Do the math on this! If you are driving 60 mph you go 60 miles in one hour. If you drive 70 mph you will go 70 miles in one hour. You saved yourself about 10 minutes. Put this into perspective. If you are on the east coast on I-81 north out of MD into PA it will probably not happen. The chances of driving 70 mph without slowing down are all but impossible.

If you are in the Midwest you can gain time driving faster. I delivered trucks for Jerr-Dan from 2004 to 2009. One trip I remember very well. I was delivering a Peterbilt Wrecker to Reno, NV. The truck was governed at 55 mph. I thought I was never going to get there.

With the speed limit at 75 mph I was losing 20 miles every hour. If I was only driving 10 hours per day I was losing 200 miles per day. On the east coast it would have not concerned me.

Autumn Hazards!

Who would ever think that leaves make dangerous driving conditions? I learned this at a very young age. I was going to fast on a turn in the woods and almost went into the ditch.

When the leaves fall onto the roads they can be as slippery as ice. If the leaves are wet, it is like ice. When you apply the brakes, the leaves can stick to your tires making it worse.

 

Hydroplaning!

Hydroplaning

This occurs when it is raining very hard and there is ponding on the roadways. Years ago, I was with a friend in his 1970 Plymouth GTZ. We were moving about 50 mph in the pouring rain. All of a sudden we were going sideways. He steered the car straight again and we moved on.

This can happen so quick. Make sure you have good tires on your vehicle. This helps to nullify situations like this. Keep in mind it may not eliminate the risks in extreme conditions.

Bridge Clearance - Low Bridge Ahead!

Be careful approaching bridges that have low clearances. If the sign says 13’ 7” and you are 13’ 6” you will want to go very slow. By going slow, you can back up and get out if it does touch. Click here to read about Bridge Clearance.

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