When the sunny, warm Las Vegas weather takes a turn, it’s important to practice defensive driving if you don’t already. While you may assume that ice and snow are the most dangerous weather conditions for drivers, the truth may surprise you. Here are the most hazardous driving conditions to watch for and how to get down the road safely.
Expecting ice to top the charts for dangerous road conditions? The truth is rain is responsible for more driving deaths than snow in 39 of 50 states, including Nevada. In some cities like Los Angeles, rainfall is known to cause a huge spike in crashes, sometimes up to 300 in a single day compared to the typical 20-30. Rain is more common than snow and fog in many areas and people may not be as cautious on a wet road as they are on an icy road. Rain can also reduce visibility.
Rain can be especially dangerous in Las Vegas, which doesn’t get much rainfall. This is because oil residue builds up on the roads throughout the year. When it hasn’t rained in awhile, even a light shower can make the roads incredibly dangerous.
These tips can help you drive safely in the rain:
— The road is most dangerous when it first starts to rain due to a build-up of oil residue mixing with water.
— Always slow down when the road is wet.
— Brake slower and earlier in the rain. This reduces the risk of hydroplaning and helps you maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
— Don’t use cruise control because it can cause your car to speed up if you hydroplane.
— Keep your headlights on to make it easy for other drivers to see you in the rain.
— Use your defroster.
— If you hydroplane, don’t brake or turn the steering wheel suddenly. Slowly ease off the gas and steer straight until the tires get traction again.
Fog can dramatically reduce visibility, especially when you encounter dense fog suddenly. You may not see that vehicles in front of you have stopped or slowed dramatically. If you have them, use fog lights but never high beams which can cause glare that actually makes it harder to see. Be sure your headlights are on, even in the day, because it keeps your tail lights on for other drivers. Slow down and stay focused on the road because you may not be able to see more than 20 feet ahead.
Strong winds can be dangerous when driving because gusts can actually blow your vehicle off course and cause you to lose control of the vehicle. High winds are most dangerous for large and high vehicles which have more trouble maintaining control. Give trucks plenty of room when it’s windy. Drive slower than usual and take care to adjust your steering wheel if needed. If you need to steer yourself back in the right direction, do it gently without jerking the wheel.
True, snow may not be a big concern in Las Vegas but just a couple of hours north it’s a very real danger. Heavy snowfall reduces visibility and increases stopping distance. It can also hide road hazards such as ice just below the snow. When driving in the snow, remember to drive slowly and accelerate and brake slowly. Increase your distance from other vehicles and don’t try to power up hills or you can lose traction.