How to stay safe while in different weather conditions

Your Complete Guide For Driving In All Types Of Weather

When the weather outside is frightful, most of us know to take it easy on the road or stay indoors, if possible. But beyond basic bad weather conditions like rain and snow, many drivers fail to consider how inclement weather can affect their ability to navigate a road safely, including conditions like fog, flooding, tornadoes, and even extreme heat.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, 24% of the 6,301,000 car crashes each year are related to weather. These adverse weather conditions may include something as minimal as wet pavement to more severe sleet or ice on a road.

Before you get behind the wheel in bad weather, know what causes a crash:

  • 75%

    Wet pavement

  • 46%


  • 15%


  • 13%

    Icy pavement

  • 8%


How to Prepare Yourself to Drive Safely in Bad Weather

As a driver, you may be surprised to find that most bad weather car crashes occur on wet pavement. While drivers may take care to drive slowly in snowy or icy weather, rain – and especially drizzle – can cause a false sense of confidence.

Researchers estimate that 24% of all car crashes occur in bad weather, like rain, snow, and ice. Yet an increasing number of drivers fail to account for adverse conditions in rainy weather that should merit a slower speed and a greater distance between vehicles.

If you don’t want to become another statistic, safe driving in bad weather can be summarized in 4 helpful tips:

More people are likely to drive in wet weather without adjusting their speed.

  • Check the weather forecast

    Before you even think about turning your key in the ignition, take a moment to check the weather forecast online or via an app on your phone.

    If a blizzard is in the forecast, it may be best to wait it out instead of driving to a restaurant for dinner. If rain is expected to let up in several hours, you can plan your day accordingly to run errands in the evening when the weather is clear outside.

  • Check your car

    Take several minutes to check your car before hitting the road. All fluids should be topped off, especially antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid in a snowstorm. Make sure that both headlights work properly, all tires are inflated, and your car battery has been tested to reduce the risk of getting stranded in freezing temperatures. Make sure you have proper insurance coverage.

  • Check your equipment

    Don’t forget to keep a first aid supply kit in your trunk with a blanket, warm
    clothing, a flashlight, and batteries in case of an accident or breakdown.

  • Check your route

    Last but not least, checking your route in detail online will alert you if any roads are closed, or if you plan to drive through a high-risk area, like a flood zone. Consider rerouting your trip as necessary to avoid snowy, icy roads that may not have been plowed or unpaved roads that could be difficult to navigate in foggy or rainy weather.

If you’re concerned about missing work in bad weather, it helps to know that most employers are sympathetic to unsafe driving conditions. According to statistics from WB Journal, employers would prefer employees to:

  • 9%

    Take the day off with pay

  • 32.6%

    Depends on the nature of the job

  • 7%

    Take the day off without pay

  • 18.6%

    Come in later than usual

  • 32.6%

    Work from home

Weather Patterns Throughout the U.S.

If you hate the snow, you may choose to move to a new city for the weather alone – like sunny Tampa or balmy San Diego. Lovers of snow and wintertime sports may prefer a city that gets a large amount of snowfall each year, like Boulder nestled in the Rocky Mountains or Rochester with an above-average annual snowfall.

Given the fact that the Continental U.S. is a vast country that encompasses close to 4 million square miles, weather patterns can vary greatly from one state to the next.

Meteorologists refer to fluctuating climate patterns throughout the U.S. as oscillations. The two contributing factors to changing weather are the surrounding oceans and the atmosphere. As the two interact, different weather patterns are created that range from heat to sleet to rain to snow.

February 2012-January 2013

Statewide ranks

To provide further detail, check out these sample temperature averages with average annual precipitation and snowfall for popular cities in the US:.

* per year

  • State, City

  • Temperature

  • rain*

  • snow*

  • New Mexico


  • 35.7°-78.5°
  • 9.47”
  • 11”
  • Georgia


  • 42.7°-80°
  • 50.20”
  • 2.1”
  • Texas


  • 50.2°-84.2°
  • 33.65”
  • 0.9”
  • Idaho


  • 30.2°-74.7°
  • 12.19”
  • 20.6”
  • Illinois


  • 22°-73.3°
  • 36.27”
  • 38”
  • South Carolina


  • 44.6°-82°
  • 48.27”
  • 1.9”
  • California

    Los Angeles

  • 57.1°-69.3°
  • 13.15”
  • 13.15”
  • New York

  • 32.1°-76.5°
  • 49.69”
  • 28.6”
  • Washington


  • 34.9°-79.2°
  • 39.35”
  • 17.1”


  • Northwest Pacific:

    Considered the wettest area of the country with scattered showers year-round and mild temperatures.

  • Pacific Rockies:

    Dry, mild summers with cooler, chilly winters in northern states.

  • Southwest:

    Considered the hottest region of the US with heavy rains and thunderstorms, occasional tornadoes, and some freezing rain in short winters.

  • Midwest:

    Moderately dry weather with some rain and tornadoes in spring and summer, as well as heavy snow in the winter.

  • Northeast:

    Rainy weather with heavy snow and freezing rain in the winter, as well as sunny, warm summers.

  • Southeast:

    Considered the hottest region of the US with heavy rains and thunderstorms, occasional tornadoes, and some freezing rain in short winters.

Driving in Rain

While it’s possible to drive safely in the rain, it’s important to remember the warning mentioned above

Most drivers are less likely to adjust their speed or distance in the rain, which could increase the risk of an accident

Did you know that you’re more likely to get into an accident when it rains after a dry spell?

IT’S TRUE : After a period of drought, grease and oil from engines will build up on the road. As new rain or drizzle begins to fall, it will mix with the substances on the road to create a slick surface. If heavy rain continues to fall, it will wash away the oily residue, but just a few hours after it starts to rain, roads are considered the most dangerous.

In certain areas of the country, rain can cause rivers to overflow and flood roads. In East Tennessee, a recent downpour of 2.5 inches of rain flooded nearby rivers so that schools in the surrounding area were closed or delayed. Drivers on their morning commute faced hazardous conditions with major flooding in neighborhoods where residents were forced to evacuate.

If you live in a high-risk flood zone, make it your top priority to check the weather forecast and all road conditions before venturing out in the rain. Also, make sure your car is insured. You can calculate an insurance estimate here.

Heavy rain driving tips:


Since it takes longer to brake or correct a vehicle in rainy weather.

Don’t brake

Try to decelerate or downshift instead of using your brakes.

Replace worn windshield wipers before it rains.

Turn on your headlights, even in light drizzle or overcast weather, to improve your visibility to other drivers.

Stay alert when driving on wet, slick roads; watch carefully for brake lights in front of you.

  • Don’t drive through
    moving water if the
    ground isn’t visible below.
  • Drive in the middle lanes since water is more likely to pool on the outside of a road.
  • Increase your distance between vehicles on the road; leave even more distance behind buses and large trucks that can obstruct vision.
  • Follow the tracks driven by the car
    ahead of you.

Driving in Thunderstorm

One of the most common questions drivers ask is if it’s safe to drive in a thunderstorm where lightning is visible. Experts support the fact that driving in a thunderstorm is perfectly safe. In fact, it’s considered safer to stay in your vehicle than to be outside in the elements, where lightning could strike.

The safest place in a lightning or thunderstorm is in a large
enclosed building, the second safest location is in an enclosed car.

thunderstorm driving tips:

Don’t touch metal surfaces

When driving in your vehicle in a lightning storm, try not to touch any metal surfaces.

If thunder and lightning are
severe, it’s important to pull off the road. A lightning flash in a heavy rainstorm could startle you and cause a temporary loss of visibility, especially when driving at night.

Stay alert to watch for downed power lines and branches or debris on the road.

Watch carefully for flooding on the road.

  • Take caution when approaching an intersection.
  • Treat all intersection
    traffic lights as stop signs.

Stay in your car if lightning is visible. In heavy rain, pull over to park in an open area away from trees and power lines.

The Good News

For drivers in a thunderstorm is that lightning fatalities have dropped drastically in the past three decades. Nonetheless, it’s best not to drive, if possible, until a thunderstorm has passed.

For drivers stuck on the road in a thunderstorm is that you’re likely to remain unharmed, even if your car is struck by lightning.

Just take the story of Brittany Quistorff of Minnesota, whose vehicle was struck by lightning in 2010. The lightning strike blew out her tire and back windshield and caused her radio antenna to melt, but Quistorff didn’t have a scratch on her; the metal exterior of her car transmitted the electric charge directly into the ground. This again reinforces the fact that it’s critical not to touch any metal components in a car during a thunderstorm to avoid electrocution.

Driving in Snow

In a snowstorm or blizzard, weather experts advise drivers not to drive at all. If you must go to work or to pick up your kids from school, it’s best not to venture out until snowplows and sanding trucks have had an opportunity to clear the streets.

Drivers in snow are cautioned to watch out for black ice at all costs. If the road appears slick, then it’s probably covered with one of the worst winter road dangers, known as invisible black ice. This completely transparent ice may look like a puddle on the road but could cause a vehicle to spin wildly out of control.

When driving in a snowstorm, skidding is a
definite possibility.

Snow driving tips:

Use Snow tires

Use snow tires on uncleared roads.

Use defroster

Run your air conditioner to defrost and remove condensation from interior windows.

Don’t oversteer

Don’t over-steer to recorrect a skidding vehicle.

don’t stop too quickly

Give yourself extra time to brake in traffic.

Don’t drive without adequate visibility; replace windshield wiper blades regularly.

Check your headlights and taillights to make sure they are clear of snow.

If your rear wheels skid on snow or ice :


Take your foot off the accelerator immediately


Steer into the direction you want to turn your front wheels.

If your front wheels skid on snow or ice :


Take your foot off the accelerator


After the car gains traction, steer into the direction you want the car to go


Shift to neutral,
Refrain from steering


Accelerate slowly.

If there’s one thing that a blizzard is known for, it’s multiple car pileups. One recent Midwestern snowstorm led to a 25 vehicle crash as drivers lost visibility in the snow and couldn’t see cars stopped in front of them. This caused a chain reaction that ended in a massive crash, where police were forced to close the highway. Within the pileup, seven were injured, and two drivers were killed. We also recommend that you are fully protected financially. You can learn about cheap full coverage insurance here.

Driving in Heat

While summertime may be synonymous with road trips and driving with the windows down, driving in extreme heat does pose its share of danger. Transportation experts caution drivers to bring water and food on a long trip in extreme temperatures, in case you have to walk for gas or help after a breakdown.

According to the Delaware Department of Transportation, heat is the number one killer of batteries, not cold weather.

Extreme heat can take its toll on your vehicle and lead to maintenance issues. Hot weather can also cause pavement to expand, resulting in buckling roads that could increase the risk of an accident.

The perfect example of dangerous road conditions caused by heat can be found in Chippewa County. Due to extreme heat, highway pavement buckled to create a ramp that launched an SUV into another lane of traffic. In near-boiling temperatures, drivers are cautioned to watch roads carefully for signs of damage and buckling caused by heat expansion.

hEAT driving tips:

check hoses and belts

Regularly check hoses and belts for signs of blistering, cracking, and wear and tear.

check hoses and belts

Regularly check hoses and belts for signs of blistering, cracking, and wear and tear.

Test your car battery and get it replaced if it is still under warranty.

Check your tires and tire pressure to prevent a blowout and keep gas costs low.

Replace wiper blades that may have worn down in hot weather.

Driving in Fog

The moment you pull onto a foggy road, you know you’re in trouble. Fog greatly reduces visibility and can distort a driver’s perception to cause a car accident within moments. Foggy weather can easily impact the speed of traffic to cause travel delays as drivers proceed with caution.

Many transportation experts consider a foggy road to be one of the most dangerous weather hazards for drivers.

Low-lying fog on a road is a top cause of multiple car pileups as drivers underestimate the distance between vehicles or miss telltale brake lights altogether.

For new, inexperienced drivers, fog can be an overwhelming road hazard that quickly leads to an accident. In the case of one Maine teen, driving in foggy conditions caused him to total his SUV, where he thankfully walked away without a scratch. New and experienced drivers alike are urged to lower their speed in fog and wear a seatbelt at all times. With tough road conditions, it’s important that you have insurance for high risk drivers.

Fog driving tips:

pull over

When in doubt, pull over until the fog lifts, turn lights off when pulled over on the roadside.

Don’t speed up to “outrun” the fog.

  • Always keep your headlights on when driving on a foggy road.
  • Don’t turn on your high beams that could reflect to decrease visibility.

Keep distance

Leave extra distance behind
the car in front of you.

Stay in your lane

Focus on the lines of the road
to stay in your lane.


In a state like Oklahoma where a tornado is a common occurrence, it’s important to become well-versed with basic driving safety during a tornado strike. Throughout the US, tornadoes take place on a monthly basis, making it important for all drivers to understand standard tornado driving precautions.

In a high-risk area for tornadoes, drivers are encouraged to listen to weather reports regularly for a tornado warning or watch. If an official tornado warning has been issued, it’s important to seek shelter immediately and avoid driving, if at all possible.

Sign of Tornado :

If you spot significant weather changes, like a green sky, while driving, a tornado could be close by. Other signs of a tornado include fast-moving clouds in a rotating pattern in one area of the sky.

tornado driving tips:

Avoid overpasses and high structures.

Get out of your vehicle immediately, don’t try to outrun a tornado.

Find a low-lying area

Find a low-lying area, like a ditch, to lie flat on
the ground.

Staying in your car is never recommended

Rosie Thompson was one of the lucky ones. Thompson’s vehicle was picked up and thrown by a tornado for 20 seconds, where she survived huddled in the driver’s seat. As a rule of thumb, drivers are encouraged to abandon their vehicles at the first sign of a tornado near a road.

What Are the Most Dangerous Times to Drive?

Did you know that the most dangerous month to drive is August?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also confirms that Saturday is the most dangerous day to be out on the road.

For most drivers, time of day is an important factor in increasing crash risk, especially when added to bad road conditions. Roughly 95% of crashes are a result of human error. Meaning, even if the weather is dreary outside, you can still practice caution to increase your chance of arriving safely at your destination. You also might want to explore getting temporary car insurance. If you avoid driving during certain months of the year, it could be a smart decision.


  • In a Bad Weather Driving, 68% saw themselves as better drivers than women

  • Heavy rain and icy roads are the worst, 84% agree.

  • Bad weather make them losing control of their vehicle, 70% agree.


  • In a Bad Weather Driving, 26% felt that they were better drivers than their significant others

  • Heavy rain and icy roads are the worst, 86% agree.

  • Bad weather make them losing control of their vehicle, 70% agree.


Regardless of your gender, you can set yourself up for success the next time you drive in potentially unsafe weather conditions. Being a safe driver can get you insurance discounts. It’s recommended to slow down or avoid driving altogether in times of limited visibility. However, overly timid drivers can also increase risk on the road by holding up traffic with their slow speed. If you leave in areas with extreme weather, make sure you have comprehensive insurance coverage. This adds protection from weather related damage.

At times like these, slow and steady wins the race. When bad weather hits on the road:

  • Slow Down

    Try to maintain a reasonable speed below the recommended speed limit

  • Stay in lane

    Stick with the flow of traffic

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