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Weather key factor in safe driving

Published: 02:39PM October 25th, 2012

Driving at this time of the year, most of us will be heading to work or home right at dawn and dusk. This means at one moment you could be staring directly into blinding sunlight and minutes later you are in the dark.

Both limit your visibility.

Have a good pair of sunglasses available and ready to be worn to minimize the effects of the bright sunlight. Use your visors as applicable. Keep the inside and outside of your windshield clean.

With the shorter daylight hours, people will need to slow down and not overdrive their headlights. Ensure your headlights are working properly and the lenses are clear. Watch for pedestrians who may not be wearing reflective clothing. Also watch for wildlife (i.e., deer) that are more active at dawn and dusk.

Wet weather driving tips:

Slow down — your car needs three times more space to stop on slick roads. Roads become slick and dangerous after a rainfall, especially early in the winter season.

Cloudy weather reduces visibility, so use extra caution when passing other vehicles.

Maintain a distance of six to eight seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

Be deliberate in maneuvering your vehicle — most skidding is caused by sudden stops and turns.

If your vehicle skids, don’t hit the brakes. Ease off of the accelerator and steer into the direction of the skid.

If you drive through standing water, lightly apply the brakes to dry them.

Don’t speed up when navigating through standing water. Doing so may cause tires to lose contact with the road (hydroplaning). If this occurs, hold the steering wheel steady and lightly apply the brakes. After your wheels regain contact with the road, slow down until you have full control of the car.

Be prepared — have tire treads, brakes and wipers checked.

Never drive while fatigued. Stop every two hours or 100 miles and take a brief rest.

If you are having car trouble, turn on your hazard lights and pull off the road as far as possible to the right. Light flares or signal for help and stay in your car unless your car is in danger of getting hit by other vehicles. Carry a cellular phone to summon help if you become stranded.

From late October through March, dense fog often plagues the Tacoma area. Visibility in fog can deteriorate at any moment to as little as one-eighth mile (660 feet) or less. This rapid loss of visibility creates a serious road hazard.

Tips for driving in fog:

Drive with lights on low beam.

Reduce speed.

Avoid crossing traffic unless absolutely necessary.

Listen for traffic you cannot see.

Use wipers and defroster as necessary for maximum vision.

Be patient! Don’t pass lines of traffic.

Unless absolutely necessary, don’t stop on any freeway or other heavily traveled road.

Consider postponing your trip until the fog clears. Fall driving can be very hazardous due to the weather; sun angles, fog, rain, etc., each brings its own hazard. You can mitigate some of the hazards by properly maintaining your vehicle; however, it really comes down to you and how you drive.

Slow down and allow yourself plenty of time to get where you are going without driving faster than conditions allow. Watch for the other drivers who are not as prepared as you are.