Can You Drive Safely in Every Type of Severe Weather?

Can You Drive Safely in Every Type of Severe Weather?

Car driving in the snow

Driving in perfect weather is hard enough, but when severe weather hits, it's important to take extra precautions. You probably already know that slowing down and increasing concentration can make a big difference. But these extra precautions for specific kinds of weather can help you get to your destination safely.

Ice or snow

  • Slow down. Bridges and overpasses freeze first, so take it slow and avoid sudden changes in speed or direction.
  • Keep windows clear. Visibility is crucial, especially in bad weather. Turn on the wipers and crank up the defroster, if necessary. Also make sure that all items are removed from the back window area. If you're still having trouble seeing, carefully pull over to a safe location at the side of the road.
  • Brake cautiously. Abrupt braking can cause lock-up and loss of steering control. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply constant, firm pressure to the pedal.
  • Resist the urge to 'floor it.' If you get stuck in snow, straighten the wheels and accelerate slowly. Avoid spinning the tires. Use sand or blocks under the drive wheels.


  • Turn on wipers. Yes, it's obvious, but remember to keep them maintained. Wipers should be replaced every six to twelve months for optimal performance.
  • Use headlights. Visibility is usually compromised in rainy conditions. Headlights can help.
  • Keep windows clear. The defroster or air conditioner may help keep windows and mirrors clear.
  • Be patient. Take it slower than normal. Wet pavement may cause loss of traction and lead to sliding or hydroplaning.
  • Go around. Never cross a flooded roadway, because it's tough to tell how deep the water is. Take the time to find an alternate route. The last thing you want is to get caught in a flash flood.
  • Turn off cruise control. When roads are wet it is best to allow the driver to control speed and react to conditions.


  • Turn on the low beams. Day or night, headlights should be on and set to low beam.
  • Wait it out. If you're having trouble seeing, safely pull over to the right side - well out of the traffic lane - and turn on your emergency flashers. Wait until visibility improves before continuing.

High winds

  • Look out. Keep an eye out for flying debris. And use extra caution near trailers, vans, or vehicles carrying lightweight cargo.
  • Some cars shouldn't be driven. It's best not to drive a trailer, van, or other 'high-profile' vehicle (autos with high centers of gravity like SUVs and trucks) in high winds.

Severe thunderstorms

  • Turn on headlights and wipers.
  • Listen to the radio. Tune into a local weather station for storm and traffic updates.


  • Find shelter. Take cover by pulling over under an overpass or bridge.


  • Never try to outrun a tornado. Get out of the car and find shelter. If you can't reach a safe structure, lie down in a ditch or low area. Stay face down to protect yourself from flying debris, and cover the back of your head and neck with your hands. Stay alert for flash floods.

Approaching hurricane

  • Don't wait. Leave low-lying areas and move inland.

All weather safety

  • Buckle up. Every trip, every time.
  • Focus on your destination and avoid distractions.
  • Pack and store an emergency kit in your trunk or cargo area with items you could use in the event of a roadside situation.
  • Check to be sure there are no safety recalls on your vehicle.


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The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.