Unfortunately, many injuries and deaths occur along the Pelican State’s roadways every year during periods of inclement weather—summer is no exception. While drivers cannot always avoid potentially hazardous situations, we urge everyone to seek to remain indoors whenever possible during heavy storms.
If you must travel during dangerous outdoor conditions, adhering to some responsible driving tips proves helpful. Follow these practical guidelines to help minimize your chances of being involved in an accident during harsh weather generated by storms, violent winds and tornadoes.
Let’s face it—Louisiana sees its fair share of storms, but don’t let this lead you to be overconfident when inclement weather arrives! If you absolutely have to drive during a heavy storm, make sure to keep these tips in mind.
- Heavy downpours limit drivers’ ability to see the road. Remember to use your windshield wipers and headlights. If you find yourself struggling to keep your vehicle in your lane during a downpour, pull into a safe location and wait for the conditions to improve. Try to find a suitable parking spot instead of the side of the road, as other drivers will also have difficulty seeing the roadway and the surrounding area at this time.
- Take steps to limit distractions. Rain or shine—you need your full attention for driving!
- Be especially wary of hydroplaning situations. You can lose control of your vehicle when the tires lose traction over slippery films of water on the roadway. Reducing acceleration driving slower will help decrease your chances of hydroplaning.
- A storm is no place for cruise control!
- Heavy storms can make some drive erratically, so keep additional distance between you and other vehicles.
- Never attempt to drive your car across a flooded roadway! Stay away from water that is 4 inches or deeper, as this is all it takes for water to get into your engine. Drive on the crown of the road when possible and only enter water at 1-2 mph.
- Be conscious of your speed when driving through water. Not only will driving faster than 1-2 mph cause damage to your car and potentially cause an accident, but it will create wakes that impact the surrounding homes and buildings.
Strong gusts of wind are often overlooked, but dangerous for drivers. Powerful winds constantly push against vehicles and cause drivers to lose control, so follow this advice to help keep you safe.
- Keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel, as violent gusts possess the potential to cause vehicles to veer suddenly off the road.
- Vehicles with high profiles, such as tall trucks and some RVs, remain at greater risk of encountering problems during strong windstorms. Exercise care when passing a high profile vehicle under these circumstances!
- Trash cans and other large objects can land in roadways or be thrown into your vehicle, so remain alert to airborne debris thrown by gusting winds. Some objects—such as downed power lines and sharp uprooted fence posts or signs—pose a significant driving hazard.
Tornadoes are a tricky situation to navigate. Because there is much less finite warning than storms or strong winds, it can be difficult to determine the right time to travel. Here’s our advice for driving when there’s a threat of tornadoes in your area.
- Never try to outrun a tornado!
- Keep in mind the topography of the area where you’ll be driving. Plains states see the most tornadoes due to their flat landscape, but they have been reported in every state.
- If you notice debris swirling over the roadway, pull off the road and park. If you’re unable to find a safe structure, lie flat in a ditch or other lower surface with your hands over your head. However, use your best judgement when exiting the vehicle, as some tornadoes carry heavy objects and pose a risk of injury from flying debris or strong winds.
- If remaining in the vehicle appears safer than exiting, keep your seat belt attached and keep your head lower than the windows. Protect your face and head with your arms. If you have a blanket, place this covering over your head also to help safeguard your body from broken glass.
Defensive driving will always be your best ally on the road. You can’t ensure that others will drive responsibly, especially during inclement weather. Use your best judgment when determining if the conditions are safe to drive and if driving during a storm is absolutely necessary, follow our tips to help keep you safe. If something does happen though, protect yourself by contacting Stephen Gaubert, a leading car accident lawyer in Lafayette, LA.