With the Atlantic hurricane season officially beginning June 1st, heavy rains from Tropical Storm Bonnie have already soaked the coast of South Carolina. While Bonnie was later downgraded to a tropical depression, it could be a precursor of things to come for residents and South Carolina auto insurance companies.
If forecasters are correct
If forecasters are correct, South Carolinians can expect an average year of storm activity. By normal standards, that means 13 named storms and two major storms (Category 3-5) are likely to hit landfall during the upcoming 2016 season. This is according to Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science.
Driving during high winds and stormy weather can be extremely treacherous and dangerous if you’re new to these types of severe conditions. It can be a true test of your driving ability and require extra caution to get you home safely.
Prepare ahead of time
Because thunderstorm and hurricane winds can reach speeds of up to 100 mph or more, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, you should prepare ahead of time for dangerous weather by staying off the roadways. However, that may not always be possible and you may find yourself caught off guard – even if forecasters predict it.
If you absolutely have to be on the road, keep the following guidelines in mind to help increase your chances of coming through the heavy downpour and windstorm safely:
- Drive slower than usual
Your vehicle will not handle as well when it’s being buffeted by strong winds. For that reason, you want to drive slower and increase the distance between your vehicle and those ahead of you. You’ll have more time to react to fallen tree branches and other vehicles by slowing down.
- Gripping the wheel
While we were taught to grip the steering wheel at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, few of us still follow that rule. But, by firmly gripping the wheel with both hands at or near 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock, you can help prevent wind gusts from wrenching the wheel away and causing an accident.
- Don’t underestimate wind gusts
Unexpected wind gusts can wreak havoc for most vehicles, larger vehicles such as vans, motorhomes, and big-rigs. Powerful gusts can easily push your car into an adjoining lane or off the road. Therefore, certain precautions should be taken when:
- Going from a protected area to an exposed area, including on a long stretch of tree-lined road that opens up to no vegetation or when passing a large truck.
- Crossing over an exposed bridge.
- Driving high-profile vehicles like trucks, buses, campers, RVs and trailers. Their height can make them particularly hard to handle and dangerous in gusty winds.
- Sharing the road with large or high-profile vehicles. These vehicles are prone to being blown into your path by a strong gust. Use extra caution when passing them.
- Blowing objects and other hazards
Tree limbs are notorious for blowing across the highway or suddenly falling and blocking your path on the roadway. Stay alert and keep an eye out for falling trees and downed power lines. Note: Never attempt to drive over downed power lines or across a flooded roadway.
Remember – it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Stay off the roads if the forecast calls for severe weather. Being involved in a car accident, regardless of road conditions, still means higher car insurance rates. Furthermore, ignoring the risks could result in you or a family member getting hurt or worse.