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"10 Reasons Why Spring Driving Conditions are Dangerous"
March's arrival can only mean that the much-anticipated sights and sounds of spring are just around the corner. But springtime also ushers in seasonal driving challenges like wet pavement, motorcyclists, and foraging animals who've emerged from their winter shelters. Staying safer on the roads during the spring starts with a driver's ability to identify the potential threats they're up against. To help make your springtime commutes safer ones, here are 10 of the more common driving hazards to watch out for.
Many animals in colder climates dramatically reduce their activity, or even hibernate, during winter. When spring arrives, those animals start moving around again while mating and foraging for food. Animals crossing the road in front of your car can happen without warning, and many species, including deer, are more active at dusk and dawn when it's harder to see.
Millions of spring drivers suffer from seasonal allergies that cause runny nose, itchy eyes and scratchy throats. To treat those symptoms, many rely on OTC allergy medications that induce drowsiness which then places them at risk behind the wheel. Before combining any allergy medication with driving, read the label or consult your pharmacist.
Warmer weather attracts bicyclists, and that means sharing the road with them as a driver. When approaching or passing bicyclists who are using the shoulder, make sure to allow them plenty of room.
DRIVING TOO FAST
For some reason when the temperatures start to rise road speeds tend to also increase. Be extra careful to watch your speed, especially in school zones or other areas where pedestrians or bicyclists are present. When driving on wet pavement it's always wise to slow down.
Spring hailstorms are common, and even small hailstones can shatter windshields when you're traveling fast. Ice fragments left over from hailstorms can also quickly create hazardous driving conditions. Before hitting the road, always check your local weather report for hail warnings.
Heavy rainfall and spring are synonymous terms in many regions, and that means wet pavement with slippery oil residue that can induce hydroplanning. According to the Federal Highway Administration (www.fhwa.dot.gov), nearly half of all weather-related accidents occur while it's raining. To stay safer when driving in rain, make sure your tires have adequate tread, turn on your headlights, and reduce your speed.
Warmer weather also brings out motorcyclists that drivers need to watch out for. Always give motorcyclists a wide berth when you pass, and stay back from motorcycles at least one car length per 10 mph while operating your vehicle.
In areas that get a lot of snow, snowplow and road salt use combine to create potholes. Driving over deeper ones can cause serious damage to your tires, steering and suspension. Standing water can also shield potholes from drivers. As a result, slow down when approaching large puddles on the road, and avoid potholes and chunks of broken pavement whenever possible.
Many drivers don't check the air pressure in their tires like they should, especially during winter months when it's cold. Hitting potholes can also cause your tires to lose air, and that's why it's important to check your tire pressure weekly. Underinflated tires can cause vehicle handling problems and speed up tire tread wear.
WORN WIPER BLADES
Removing wintertime ice and snow from your windshield can quickly wear out wiper blades, especially if they're cheaper ones. It's always smart to replace worn wiper blades in the spring with a fresh set. With all the rain that spring brings, you'll want to make certain that your wipers are up to the challenge!