April showers bring May flowers—and an increased risk of a car accident. While we all look forward to the end of the snow, ice, and slush of winter, we should also be aware that spring weather has driving hazards of its own. Along with dangerous weather conditions, there are increases in the numbers of travelers, including motorcycles, bicyclists, and pedestrians as the temperatures warm up. Be alert to the unique dangers of spring driving to protect yourself and your passengers this year.
Spring Weather Hazards
Across the Midwest, there is some wild and wacky weather during spring. Tornados, hailstorms, and high winds are typical spring weather patterns in Kansas and Missouri. Drivers should be aware of each day's forecast and what it means before heading out on the roads.
Some dangerous weather conditions you might see this spring include the following:
- Rain. Even a light rain can reduce visibility and make roads slick, so the torrential downpours we sometimes have in spring can definitely hinder driving. Always reduce your speed in rainy conditions and pull safely off the road in a blinding downpour.
- Hail. Kansas and Missouri are right in the middle of the nation’s hail belt. Hailstones can shatter windshields and scatter obstacles all over the road. When you encounter a hailstorm while driving, seek shelter off the road as soon as possible.
- High winds. We all know to find a safe haven when tornados are likely, but many people are less aware of the dangers of straight-line winds. High-profile vehicles like SUVs and semi-trucks can be blown over by strong spring gusts. Avoid unnecessary driving when wind speeds are high.
- Icy conditions. You never know when winter will reappear during a Midwestern spring. Keep an eye on the temperature and if it dips below freezing, watch out for icy spots on the road.
- Flash flooding. Your best protection against a flash flood is to check the forecast. If you will be crossing areas prone to flooding, avoid them in heavy rains.
There's not much you can do about a spring storm that pops up unexpectedly while you're driving, but checking the forecast—particularly before a long drive—can save you from a potentially dangerous situation.
Other Spring Dangers
Weather isn't the only danger faced by drivers in the spring. As the temperatures increase, so do the numbers of people—and wildlife—that you have to be aware of. Be sure to give attention and wide berth to the following fellow travelers:
- Pedestrians. People are much more likely to be outside when the weather is nice, including children walking to school and people walking for pleasure and exercise. In residential areas, pedestrians often choose to walk in the road rather than on sidewalks. Be alert to their presence, particularly children who don’t know to look out for cars.
- Animals. Deer, raccoons, possums, and pets are more likely to try to cross roadways in the spring as they emerge from winter dens and the deep woods. Even a small animal can cause a driver to run off the road and crash. Scan the roadside for approaching animals, especially at dawn and dusk.
- Bicycles. Just like pedestrians, bicyclists come out in droves in the spring. As they regain their cycling skills, be cautious as you pass them and allow them plenty of space on the side of the road.
- Motorcycles. Bikers take their motorcycles out of storage in the spring and have to get used to the ways of the road again. Check your blind spots for motorcycles on the highway and give them the same respect and space you would a car.
As the driver of a bigger vehicle, it's up to you to be aware of these potential obstacles and to do all you can to avoid hitting them. However, this doesn't mean that the driver of a car is always the one at fault in an accident with a pedestrian or a biker.
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