Like many parts of the country, Illinois gets its fair share of extreme weather events. Unlike many parts of the country, however, extreme weather runs the gamut from ice storms and whiteouts to tornadoes. Severe weather can come on suddenly, catching drivers in their vehicles. Keep safe by knowing the warning signs of extreme weather, and follow these driving safety tips.
High Winds & Heavy Rain
High winds and heavy rain are two common components of summer storms. Listen to the news and weather, which warns people long in advance of storms. Do not drive during storm warnings or any heavy winds, as you risk getting hit by flying debris. Some vehicles, such as panel trucks, may be difficult to control during winds greater than 25 miles per hour.
Hail is more difficult to predict, so have a plan where you can wait out the storm safely in your car. If it begins to hail while you are driving, seek an underpass or other structure to park underneath. If that is not possible, pull over and wait until the storm is over. Do not exit your car. Large hailstones can break car windows, so imagine what they can do to you.
If you’re caught driving during a thunderstorm and lightning is close, stay inside your vehicle. If you can’t get to a building, a fully enclosed vehicle with a metal top is a safe place to ride out a storm. Pull over, do not touch any metal or electrical parts of the vehicle (including the steering wheel), and do not use your mobile phone.
Heavy rains can trigger flash flooding. If you see a large puddle or flowing water on a road, go around it or find a different route. The water may be deep enough to stall or damage your vehicle. Be sure your wipers and headlights are in top working condition. Use them in heavy rains to ensure you can see and be seen.
Never drive during a tornado warning, and never try to drive away from a tornado in your vehicle. Tornados can change direction quickly and are powerful enough to hurl vehicles through the air. Instead, get out of your vehicle and seek shelter in a building. If you can’t reach a safe structure, lie down in a ditch or low area. Stay face-down to protect yourself from flying debris, and cover the back of your head and neck with your hands.
The best advice for driving in winter snowstorms is the same as the other extreme weather events: don’t do it! If you must, keep your lights on, reduce speed, and allow more time and distance to stop. If you get stuck in snow during a storm, stay with your vehicle. Tie a bright piece of material to the antenna to make it easier for travellers and rescuers to see you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and get lost.
You should also take some precautions when driving in extreme cold. Road salt does not work effectively at low temperatures, so slow down, as roads may be slippery. Bring warm clothes, such as extra socks, sweater, and mittens, when traveling long distances.
Day or night, headlights should be on and set to low beam. Wait it out. If you’re having trouble seeing, safely pull over to the right side – well out of the traffic lane – and turn on your emergency flashers. Wait until visibility improves before continuing.
Always buckle up, avoid distractions and store an emergency kit in your trunk or cargo area with items you could use in the event of a roadside situation. No matter how prepared you are, damage can happen during extreme weather events. If you have an accident, call Turk’s Collision Center, once you are safe. We strive to be the leading automotive body repair shop in Illinois with excellent workmanship, advanced training, and superb communication with the customer. We know this may be a stressful time, so we offer quick turnaround, a lifetime warranty and direct billing with all insurance companies.