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Getting there Safely—Avoid Driving Disasters

Posted on by Blog Administrator

road with dark cloudsFrom weekend getaways to cross-country road trips, people spend countless hours driving each year. Despite the confidence you may feel behind the wheel, there are some situations where driving is not a safe option for anyone. The weather can cause especially dangerous driving conditions, often putting a driver and their passengers in unexpected and risky situations.

As you plan your summer travel, be informed and be prepared.

Keeping an emergency kit in your car is the best way to prepare for any type of emergency on the road.  Include items like a first aid kit, jumper cables, tools (like a roadside emergency kit), and maps in your emergency car kit. For a full list of items to include in your car kit visit, CDC’s Get Supplies webpage.

Here are some tips on what to do when driving through severe weather and what to do if disaster occurs when you are on the road.Warning Traffic Sign On Flooded Road

Severe Rain or Floods

Heavy rainfall can quickly make driving dangerous – from slippery roads to not being able to see very far in front of you.  If you get caught in a storm, remember your hazard lights and know when you need to pull over to a safe spot. If you cannot clearly see the road or road signs and signal, pull over to a safe location and leave your hazard lights on. Listen to the weather report and get to a safe location if the weather it predicted to get worse.

After a heavy rain, be aware of flooding in the area and avoid roads that may be covered in water. NEVER drive through flood waters—the water could be deeper then it appears. Six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your car, and a foot of water can sweep most cars away.  Turn around, don’t drown!

Tornado

If there is a possibility of tornadoes in your area, avoid driving. The last place you want to be in a tornado is in a motor vehicle. Cars, buses and trucks are easily tossed by tornado winds. Do NOT try to outrun a tornado in your car. If a tornado watch or warning is issued in your area while you are in your car, immediately find a building to take shelter. If you see a tornado, stop your vehicle and get to a secure location, low to the ground and protected from flying debris if possible. Do not get under your vehicle.

Earthquakes

Traffic cones on the cracked asphalt roadIf you are in your car during an earthquake, stop quickly and safely. If possible, move your car away from the shoulder or curb, avoid stopping on or under an overpass and move away from utility poles and overhead wires. Remain in your car and turn on your parking break. Your car may shake violently on its shocks, but it is a good place to remain until the shaking stops. If a power line falls on your car, call 911 or an emergency line for help, and stay inside until a trained person removes the wire. Also, tune into your local radio for emergency broadcast information on possible aftershocks and road damage caused by the earthquake. When driving after an earthquake watch for hazards, such as breaks in the pavement, downed utility poles and wires, rising water levels, fallen overpasses, and collapsed bridges.

Extreme Heat           

Cars can get hot very quickly, especially if they are sitting in the sun. During a very hot day and even with the windows open, interior temperatures can rise significantly when a car is parked. Anyone left inside a car when an area is experiencing extreme heat is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death. Children and pets that are left unattended in parked cars are at greatest risk for health related illness. Never leave infants, children, older adults or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open. When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car.

Take all the precautions you can to ensure you get to your destination safely, and never attempt to drive through dangerous travel conditions. Bad weather can strike unexpectedly, so be prepared by staying informed and having an emergency kit in your car.

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2 comments on “Getting there Safely—Avoid Driving Disasters”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    This blog is very interesting, because to me living in California the earthquake section brought back a lot of memories. I work in the insurance industry and have seen many accidents in that time. This blog is very informative because many of the most common accidents that happen on the road can definitely be avoided if people would follow these basic concepts. I drive constantly to various parts of California and to this date I do not have a set of jumper cables or a first aid kit in my car. From this information it makes me want to make sure that I have these tools before my next road trip. My clients would also be very helped by this blog and it is something I will most likely forward to any client that is about to do a long trip or has had an accident that was caused by disasters. Now all of these types of disasters are very important to avoid but I believe there is one other thing that readers have to be aware, and that is driving tired. Many accidents now a days have been caused because of sleep deprivation and nodding off behind the wheel. Drowsydriving.org states: “According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America poll, 60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people – say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third, (37% or 103 million people), have actually fallen asleep at the wheel! In fact, of those who have nodded off, 13% say they have done so at least once a month. Four percent – approximately eleven million drivers – admit they have had an accident or near accident because they dozed off or were too tired to drive.”

    What was interesting about this blog/topic was the fact that I never considered weather to be a factor in dangerous driving. People typically tend to think of driving under the influence, texting or general distracted driving when they think of driving disasters, not the weather. When it rains where I live, the roads can get pretty slippery and dangerous, but earthquakes can also create dangerous driving conditions as well. Personally, after reading through this blog, I will be more alert during periods of bad weather. Using blogs in the future can also help bring awareness to others of the different dangers posed to drivers during times of inclement weather and natural disasters. According to an article from the National Safety Council website, multitasking is a myth. Driving and cell phone use requires a great deal of thought and doing both of them at the same time, the brain is unable to do both accurately (nationalsafetycouncil.org). Knowing this fact, try adding bad weather to the mix. Can you see the potential dangers?

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