Road Hazards: Spotting and Avoiding Dangers While Driving
Types of Road Hazards
As a driver, you are responsible for not only your own safety but the safety of those around you. One way to ensure the safety of yourself and others while driving is to be aware of the different types of road hazards that you may encounter.
Some common road hazards include:
Potholes on the road are a common hazard that can cause significant damage to your vehicle. They are formed when the surface of the road begins to break down due to weathering or wear and tear. As a result, potholes can vary in size and depth.
If you hit a pothole while driving, it can damage your tires, wheels, and suspension system. To avoid potholes, try to stay in the middle lanes of the road where they are less likely to occur, and be on the lookout for any potholes that may be hidden by puddles or shadows.
Debris on the road can be anything from construction materials and fallen branches to trash, broken glass, and car parts. Debris can be dangerous because it can cause you to lose control of your vehicle if you run over it. It can also damage your tires or cause other damage to your vehicle.
To avoid debris on the road, stay alert and watch out for any objects that may be in your path. If you see debris ahead, slow down and try to safely navigate around it if possible (check your blind spots before changing lanes).
Wet or icy roads
Wet or icy roads can be dangerous for drivers because they can cause your vehicle to skid or lose traction. When driving on wet or icy roads, it is important to slow down and increase your following distance to give yourself more time to react to any changes in the road conditions—especially if there is any black ice.
You should also be careful when making turns or braking, as these actions can cause your vehicle to slide. To avoid accidents when driving in winter weather, make sure to reduce your speed and increase your following distance to ideally 100 feet.
Animals, especially larger ones like deer, can also be a hazard on the road. If you see an animal on or near the road, it is important to slow down and be prepared to stop.
Animals can move unexpectedly, so you should always be alert when you seem them. If you see an animal on the road, try to safely navigate around it if possible. If you cannot avoid the animal, be prepared to come to a stop after first slowing down for any vehicles behind you.
Pedestrians, especially children, can be unpredictable and may not always follow traffic laws themsleves.
As a result, it is important to always be alert for pedestrians when driving. This is especially true in areas where pedestrians may be present, such as near schools or in residential neighborhoods.
If you see a pedestrian, slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary. Always yield to pedestrians when they are crossing the road, and make sure to give them plenty of space when passing.
In the rare and unfortunate event that someone is intentionally trying to get in the way of your vehicle to get hit on purpose, you can also get a dash cam to have any accidents on record.
How to Spot Road Hazards
To effectively avoid road hazards, you need to be able to spot them.
Here are some tips on how to identify road hazards:
- Keep your eyes moving: Don't fixate on one point while driving. Instead, scan the road ahead, to the sides, and in your rearview mirror.
- Stay alert: Don't let distractions like your phone or the radio take your focus off the road.
- Use your headlights: Turn your headlights on during the day to improve your visibility and make it easier to spot hazards.
Driving Techniques You Can Use To Avoid Road Hazards
Once you have identified a road hazard, it's important to take the necessary steps to avoid it.
Here are some tips on how to avoid common road hazards:
Remember to Slow down
If you are approaching a road hazard, it is important to slow down and give yourself extra time to react. Driving at a high speed will only make things worse.
By reducing your speed, you increase your reaction time and give yourself more options for avoiding the hazard.
For example, if you see a pothole ahead, slowing down may allow you to safely navigate around it instead of having to swerve or come to a sudden stop (which can cause a collision or lose of control).
Keep your distance
Keeping a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you is always important, but it becomes even more critical when road hazards are present. By increasing your following distance, you give yourself more time to react to hazards and avoid accidents.
Use your Turn signals and hazard lights
Using your turn signals and hazard lights is an important way to communicate with other drivers and let them know what you plan to do.
If you see a road hazard ahead and need to change lanes or turn, make sure to use your signals to alert other drivers to your intentions. This will help to prevent accidents and keep everyone on the road safe.
Stay in your lane
If you see a road hazard in your lane, it is important to stay in your lane and not swerve to avoid it. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and potentially cause an accident. You’ll also forget to check your blind spots if you swerve too quickly, causing a car accident.
Instead, slow dow and brake, then come to a controlled stop if necessary. This will help you avoid the hazard while maintaining control of your vehicle.
If you do encounter a road hazard, it is important to stay calm and take appropriate action. Panicking can cause you to make poor decisions and potentially cause an accident. If you are faced with a road hazard, take a deep breath and try to assess the situation.
By being aware of the types of road hazards you may encounter, learning how to spot them, and taking the necessary steps to avoid them, you can keep yourself and those around you safe on the road.
Want to learn more about staying safe on the road? Check out our other blog posts on accident prevention here.