Impaired visibility can be a safety hazard while driving. Everything from sun glare to hail can affect a driver’s ability to see the road and navigate it effectively. Before drivers get behind the wheel, they should make note of their local forecast and make a plan for what to do if rain, snow or other conditions make it challenging to drive.
The International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences indicates that, based on an examination of crash test data conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the “likelihood of a crash increases during periods of low visibility, despite the tendency for less traffic and for lower speeds to prevail during these times.”
Drivers can take several steps to improve their visibility when driving in poor weather conditions.
• Inspect and change windshield wiper blades. Wipers are instrumental in clearing precipitation away from the windshield. If they’re not functioning properly, wipers cannot do their jobs. Drivers should replace their wipers at the first indication that they are no longer effective. In some conditions, wipers can freeze or stick. Drivers should then pull over and clean the wipers manually.
• Clear obstructions. Always make sure the windshield is clear before driving. This can include removing ice and snow in the winter and cleaning off mud or bug splatter in the spring and summer. Use the front and rear defrost if condensation fogs up windshields and windows.
• Slow down. Foul weather can reduce drivers’ ability to see far into the distance. Drivers should always drive slower in inclement weather in order to improve reaction time.
• Top off fluids. Always keep the windshield washer reservoir full and keep extra fluid in the trunk. In addition, look for a fluid that does not freeze in very cold temperatures.
• Learn how to drive in fog. Each year, more than 38,700 vehicle crashes occur in fog, states the Federal Highway Administration. Travelers Insurance recommends slowing down, staying focused and using regular headlights and not high beams when driving in fog.
• Go out only if necessary. In snowy or icy conditions, drive only if it’s absolutely necessary, as snow and ice can impair visibility and make roads slick, says AAA.
• Avoid driving at dusk and dawn. The human eye can have trouble adjusting to rapidly changing light and darkness conditions, which are common at dusk and dawn. If possible, drivers should make trips during the heart of the day, especially if poor lighting conditions typically make it difficult for them to drive.
Drivers can take steps to improve visibility when inclement weather makes roadways hard to navigate.