A change in seasons naturally brings changes in the weather, from winter snow and ice to spring showers and warmer temperatures. Spring is a time to shake yourself out of “hibernation mode” and get back out into the world. This is especially true in 2021, when many of us have been fighting cabin fever while sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the change in seasons also brings changes in road traffic and potential driving hazards, especially in West Virginia and other mountainous regions. Being aware of the unique driving hazards in West Virginia will help you take precautions in order to protect yourself and others on the road.
Here are some common driving hazards that you should watch out for as Spring approaches:
1. Avoid Springtime Showers and Hydroplaning
During the winter, residue slowly accumulates on roads. When Spring showers first appear, the roads get extremely slippery because the rainwater mixes with all of the accumulated oil and grease on the surface of the roads. Driving on this surface can be very dangerous and hydroplaning is a serious risk, which is why it is better to drive slowly during and after a rain shower. Hydroplaning occurs when water causes your car’s tires to lose contact with the surface of the road. This reduces your ability to steer and control your speed, essentially losing control of your vehicle. This usually happens at speeds of 35mph or greater, so it’s best to drive slowly during and after a rain shower, especially for the first 10 minutes of a rainstorm.
2. Watch Out for Migrating Animals
Animals like deer and possum crossing the road are common driving hazards in West Virginia. As animals come out of hibernation, they become more active on roadways. These animals don’t understand the rules of the road, so it is your job to be cautious and prepared to stop in order to avoid harming yourself or the animal.
You may not think hitting an animal with your car is a big deal until it happens to you, but even smaller animals can do a lot of damage to your vehicle. Stay aware or what’s going on around you, especially during spring and autumn traveling.
3. Make Sure Your Vehicle is Properly Maintained
Spring is notorious for wide temperature swings from warm to cold and back again, and tires lose air pressure in colder temperatures while becoming overinflated in warm temperatures. Improperly inflated tires can cause flats and blowouts, and a blowout at certain speeds can cause catastrophic damage to your vehicle and anyone inside. This is why it’s very important to regularly check your tires as well as perform any other maintenance needed on your vehicle.
4. Thunderstorms and Floods Can Be a Driving Hazard
March to May is peak storm season in West Virginia and the surrounding Appalachian region. During these storms, drivers are at risk of hazards such as poor visibility, broken electricity cables, fallen trees, slippery roads, and many other potentially dangerous scenarios. Therefore, you should prepare yourself by checking the weather forecast before leaving your house. If there’s a bad storm coming, you may want to rethink your trip.
5. Springtime Brings More Traffic on the Road
The combination of a long, cold West Virginia winter and the pandemic lockdown can definitely make the warm weather more appealing, causing many people to choose to get out of the house and get rid of cabin fever. This can lead to more congestion on the roads. More congestion plus rusty driving skills equals trouble, so drive defensively and pay attention to your surroundings.
6. Look Out for Potholes
Extreme winters can damage roads, creating potholes, and West Virginia roads are notorious for having lots of potholes. Rain can make potholes harder to see and you might end up damaging your tires, rims, or your car’s exhaust system. To avoid potholes, you should drive slowly, watching the vehicle in front of you for reactions, and gently brake when you come close to a pothole.
7. Monitor Your Health
Spring season is nefarious for bringing allergies and the seasonal flu. You should avoid driving if you feel fatigued, unwell, or if you feel like your allergies are acting up. A sneeze at the wrong time could be disastrous.
Taking precautions against driving hazards in West Virginia is necessary, but even the best drivers can find themselves involved in a car accident. Remember: you’re only as safe as those around you.
If you are injured in a car accident or other vehicle collision, it’s important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney. At Mountain State Law, we advocate for the victims of car accidents throughout the road systems in north central West Virginia. If you’ve been involved in a car wreck, motorcycle accident, or commercial vehicle collision, call our team for a free consultation.