If you’ve ever been caught up in a hailstorm, you know what a scary stretch of driving time this can be. Hailstorms are extremely dangerous to drive in and are a spring collision threat. Unlike other types of driving difficulties like heavy traffic or closed lanes, falling chunks of ice can be hard to predict. Hailstorms are actually quite frequent though, appearing five times more than tornados. Although you can’t predict when hail will hit, learning how to drive in hail will prepare you for the unfortunate event.
Hail Facts and Figures
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), hailstorms occur around 6,000 times and cause billions of dollars of property damage every year. Although fatalities are rare, these ice storms do cause injuries and accidents. The best way to avoid being a statistic is to follow these tips.
This may sound crazy, but the best way to learn ‘how to drive in hail’ is to learn to pull over safely. On average, hailstorms last only 5 to 10 minutes. The icy stones that fall to the ground actually form inside thunderstorms and are described by weather experts as ‘bingo balls’. These balls bounce around inside the cloud until they are heavy enough to fall to the ground.
Most pieces of hail are small, and although the sound of them hitting your vehicle will be scary, they won’t do much damage. They will block your vision though, which can lead to an accident. At the first sign of hail, pull over to a safe place. If the hail is large (over 1 inch in diameter), duck down and cover your head. This will help protect you from breaking glass.
#2 Do NOT Exit Your Vehicle
Although the sound of hail hitting your vehicle will probably make you want to run inside for shelter, never exit your car. Falling hail moves at highway speeds and can severely injure you. Knowing how to drive in hail also means knowing that your vehicle is a much safer place for you than in the path of falling ice.
#3 Avoid Pulling Under an Overpass
Many drivers think that one of the best ways to drive in hail is to pull your vehicle under an overpass/bridge. This might seem like a good spot. After all, it would stop falling ice from hitting your vehicle directly. Unfortunately, it can also lead to accidents and pile-ups as other drivers with the same idea try to squeeze in. The end result? Car collisions and backed up traffic for miles. Emergency car kits are helpful in situations like this in case you’re stuck for a while in transit once the storm clears.
#4 Protect Yourself and Passengers
We mentioned earlier that hailstorms only last a matter of minutes. Once you have pulled over, turn on your headlights and flashers. This will alert other drivers who are trying to figure out how to drive in hail safely as well. Then, try to find a way to cover your face and the faces of your passengers. If nothing else, recline your seats away from the windows or have the children sit on the floorboard with faces covered.
#5 Watch for Road Deterioration
Once the storm is over, it is easy to assume that we are out of the danger zone. However, one key for learning how to drive in hail is knowing what to do when a storm is over. The roads after a hailstorm are very different than they were before. They are often slippery and damaged.
As you drive, be cautious. Your tire grip will be reduced, so you’ll need to break much sooner than you would on a typical driving day. Watch for potholes and patches of ice. If you do hit a slippery spot, don’t throw on your brake! Steer carefully so you can avoid a collision.
If you find yourself with hail or collision damage after going through a hailstorm, call Orlando Auto Body. We can help you with necessary repairs today.