Summer has come and gone and fall is now in full swing. With that comes weather conditions that are going to change more than we are accustomed to. Snow is falling in the higher elevations, and rain is falling in many other places. When you combine this with decreasing temperatures, the road conditions are going to change rapidly.
Adverse conditions come at us in many different ways. Weather related adverse conditions and how to drive in them are taught from day one. Rain, snow, ice, fog, dust, wind; all of these have unique characteristics that make driving in them a challenge.
Decrease Your Speed
The common thread between all these conditions and how to drive in them may be summed up in two words: slow down! When driving in rain, slow down to at least 1/3 below the posted speed. In snow, slow down to at least 1/2 the posted speed. On ice, slow down to a speed that will allow you to maintain control long enough to get to a safe parking place. In fog and heavy blowing dust, slow your speed to a point that you may safely stop in the distance you can see, while driving to a safe place to park until conditions improve. In strong winds, drive at a speed that will allow you to maintain control.
Increase Your Following Distance
Not only do you need to adjust your speeds in adverse weather conditions, but you also need to increase your following distance accordingly. On dry roads, it takes a minimum of 526 feet to safely stop from 60 miles an hour, and at this time of year, we rarely drive in dry conditions. 526 feet translates to roughly 6 seconds, which is why we have a 9 second following distance as a minimum. When you are driving under adverse conditions, these numbers only go up.
Your following distance should increase to 13 seconds when driving in the rain and 24 seconds in the snow. Slowing your speed and increasing your following distance will give you the space and time you need to deal with any unexpected events.
Additionally, when driving in adverse weather conditions, you should never have your cruise control on, as it increases your reaction time to hazardous conditions. You should also make contact with your DM to advise them of the conditions you are in, and if it becomes necessary, that you have stopped until the conditions improve to where you can proceed safely.
Being a professional means preparing for unexpected and adverse conditions. Keep the methods listed above in your mind and practice them often. With practice, action becomes habit, so practice good actions to make good habits.