Most drivers worry about slippery roads in the winter, but they can happen year round for a variety of reasons. In fact, drivers often get into accidents in the summer because they tend to drive faster and are less road safety conscious when roads seem to be in good condition. Your best defense against accidents on slippery surfaces is understanding how and where they occur and knowing how to maintain control of your car.
Oils And Grease Build Up
On urban streets that see a lot of traffic, oil and lubricant residue build up on the road surface from cars. The longer it hasn’t rained, the thicker the buildup. These residue buildups get very slippery when it rains. The rain water turns the buildups into oil slicks which remain very slippery until the rain washes them away. You can avoid sliding on these residue buildups by driving more slowly and allowing more distance between you and the car ahead. Don’t do any hard turning or braking if you can avoid it.
During heavy rain or even moderate rain on roads with poor drainage, water puddles can cover large sections of the road. Hydroplaning occurs when a car goes through a puddle so quickly that the water doesn’t have enough time to get pushed out of the way by the tires. When this happens, the tires are moving over a film of water. This means the tires are no longer getting traction from the ground which may cause the car to go into a slide.
The faster you’re moving and the deeper the puddle, the worse the slide. You can tell you’re hydroplaning because the car doesn’t respond to steering movements of your steering wheel. When hydroplaning, let up on the gas and keep steering in the direction of travel until you feel the tires contact the road again. Never brake hard because this will lockup your wheels and may cause the car to spin off the road.
Mud can be encountered on paved roads for a variety of reasons. Runoff from the uphill side of the road will leave a deposit of mud. Some rural roads aren’t completely paved and will have dirt sections which become mud in wet conditions. Mud reduces traction. Since sharp cornering, rapid acceleration, and hard braking require traction, these actions should be avoided.
The greatest danger occurs when transitioning from pavement to mud at high speed. A speed that is appropriate for pavement is too fast for mud. If the mud section is very short, the driver should let up on the gas and drive through the section in a straight line.
Longer sections are negotiated by letting up on the gas and gently tapping the brakes. If you feel the car slipping while braking, you will have to tap the brakes with less force. Your ability to turn is a function of your speed. Once your speed has reduced sufficiently, your turning will improve. If you start to skid, turn your wheels in the direction of the skid.
Transitioning to mud from pavement at high speed can be avoided by slowing down while your car is still on the pavement. However, before you reach the mud you must let up on your brakes because braking that works on pavement will send you into a skid when you transition to the mud section. Make sure your car is also moving in a straight line before entering the mud.
If you are injured in an accident because of road conditions, don’t immediately assume you’re at fault. Contact us to learn more about your options.