When travelling out on rural highways, it is vital to pay attention to ever changing weather and road conditions. Fog, rain, frosty patches, hail, sleet and falling leaves all present hazards to road users. Read on to find out how you can circumvent danger on the roads by paying special attention to the following hazards.
During fall and winter months, bridges can be very dangerous. Bridges are exposed to the elements on both top and bottom, so they will freeze over before the rest of the road. If you are driving too fast or not paying attention, you may not be able to feel the change in traction until it is too late. Use caution when transitioning from the pavement to a bridge surface. Use both hands to steer the vehicle smoothly, accelerate gradually and avoid any hard braking.
A shady patch of highway can have less traction than other parts of the road. Combine some frost with a blind corner and the results can be deadly. Use caution if your driving takes you over bridges, down tree-lined roads, or anywhere where shadows cross dew-laden highways. Drive within the posted speed limits, slow down before blind curves, and look well ahead to spot any shaded areas.
Black ice is caused by moisture freezing on a roadway surface. Usually unseen by drivers, it forms below overpasses, on bridges, in shaded areas and where there is water running across pavement. If you are driving in an area where frost occurs, black ice is always a possibility. If the asphalt looks shiny and black rather than grey or white, use extra caution, reduce your speed and avoid using cruise control.
Make sure your headlights are turned on and clean as the sunlight fades. Reduce your speed and increase your following distance particularly when driving at dusk or at dawn. To get the best visibility, make sure your headlights are properly aimed; this is important so that the lights don’t bother other road users. Avoid looking directly at oncoming headlights, look to the right edge of your driving lane until the other vehicle passes.
Early fall storms can often be sudden or include heavy rainfall. During the summer, an accumulation of oil and rubber buildup on roadways could become extremely slick with a heavy rainfall. Slow down in the rain, avoid any hard braking, look well ahead and when approaching a mandatory stop intersection, brake sooner and more smoothly than usual.
In Alberta, fog is found in low lying areas or in places surrounded by trees, hills or mountains. Fog can limit visibility and change the perception of distance. When encountering fog, slow down. Many crashes happen in fog because the driver was going too fast for conditions and rear-ended the vehicle ahead. Reduce your speed, don’t overdrive your headlights and use extra caution.
In the fall, trees shed leaves that can end up covering residential streets and rural roads. It is important to realize that leaves can be slippery, especially when wet. To avoid a chance of skidding on them, hard acceleration, braking or any sharp sudden turns should be avoided when driving over a pile of leaves. Also keep in mind that under those leaves, there may be a pothole, or a dip in the pavement. Increase your following distance when driving in areas with wet leaves and observe the vehicles ahead of you so you can react accordingly.