Danger on the Road
By Diane Tait
|Image courtesy Pixabay|
With the school year nearly over, it’s inevitable that more Florida families will head out onto the highways and byways of the Sunshine State. Whether you’re planning a day trip or an extended road trip, I thought it best to take the time to cover some of the potential hazards you’re likely to encounter on the road.
The Perils of Potholes
While most drivers shrug their shoulders at potholes, I for one know that they can be more than just a nuisance. Depending on their depth they can be downright dangerous. I’ve seen cars and trucks hit a pothole only to blow a tire which then causes the driver to lose control as their vehicle slews to the side. What’s even worse is if a driver blunders into a puddle that turns out to be a pothole. I recently saw a motorcyclist get thrown off his bike when he hit what he thought was a puddle that turned out to be a foot-deep pothole. If you should suddenly encounter a pothole that you are unable to avoid, make sure you grip the steering wheel firmly just to be sure you won’t lose control of your car.
The Florida Air Force
|Image courtesy flickr|
This is the time of the year when the insect population explodes. It’s also the time when insects large and small pepper your windshield as you motor along. To make sure that these kamikaze pilots don’t obscure your view, double check your vehicles supply of windshield wiper fluid. If the well runs dry, then the moment you hit the wipers you may create more of a mess which will make it difficult to see the road ahead. I also highly recommend that all motorcyclists wear helmets at this time of the year. Why risk having a dragonfly knock you off your bike?
I’ve noticed that a number of windshields aren’t cracked up to what they used to be. That’s because it’s common for windshields to be cracked, chipped or dinged by flying gravel, especially in the summer months when windshields expand due to the heat. If the windshield on your vehicle is cracked, chipped or dinged, you should get it repaired or replaced before something completes the destruction and winds up in your lap. The good news is that most minor cracks, chips and dings only need to be repaired instead of replaced. A special resin is injected onto the damaged area that seamlessly seals the scar. For more extensive cracks it’s sometimes necessary to drill a hole or two to make sure the crack doesn’t spread. The important thing is to get the damage repaired before it worsens to the point where you’ll be forced to replace the windscreen.
Do You Have Tired Tires?
One of the most serious problems that many motorists have are what I call tired tires. These are tires that have little if any tread left. The problem with bald tires is the minute it begins to rain they will start to hydroplane. The result is instead of paying a few hundred dollars to replace those worn tires, you could wind up paying thousands when your vehicle skitters off the road or rear ends another car when you try to stop on a rain-slicked highway. An equally dangerous dilemma occurs when one or more of your vehicle’s tires have low air pressure. More’s the pity since all late model vehicles come equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System that will display the pressure on all 4-tires at the click of a button. If you haven’t checked your vehicle’s tire pressure, don’t delay. Do it today.
Gators on the Road?
|Image courtesy flickr|
While envisioning gators on the highway doesn’t sound like all that much of a stretch in Florida, the kind of gators I’m talking about aren’t reptilian. They’re blown truck tires otherwise known as road gators. When you’re speeding down the highway and one of them pop up in your lane, its scaly surface is reminiscent of an alligator lying in wait. Even worse, road gators can bite by getting caught in your wheel well, dinging the undercarriage, or causing accidents as other drivers swerve to avoid them. I’ve even seen road gators pop off a Mack truck to slither across three lanes of traffic while spewing smoke. To avoid these dangerous beasts, make sure you give a wide berth to big rigs. Tailgating a trucker is the best way to get bitten by a road gator.
Speaking of tailgating, most drivers follow way too close to the vehicle ahead. What most drivers consider a safe distance is usually anything but, particularly on the interstate where speeds of 70+ MPH are common. The reason is most people assume if they give the vehicle ahead a 2-second lead then they’re driving at a safe distance. The problem is, this is only true if you’re driving 35 MPH or less. At speeds of 40-60 MPH, you need to provide a 3-second lead and over 60 MPH the safe interval is 4-seconds. If it starts to rain, you need to multiply the intervals by one and a half. Since blinding squalls are the norm in the summer, it’s quite common for drivers to suddenly slow to a crawl on the interstate. Should you fail to provide an adequate lead distance, expect to wind up in a wreck.
Your Own Worst Enemy
Last but not least, I’d like to point out that the biggest danger to most motorists is the one behind the wheel. Today’s vehicles are filled with way too many distractions that can cause drivers to look away from the road. Even if you don’t use your cellphone or heaven forbid text while you drive, every time you input a destination on your GPS or change radio stations you risk a collision with another vehicle. Add a passenger or a couple of kids in the backseat and your peril increases dramatically. What most drivers don’t realize is that at 70 MPH their vehicle covers more than 100-feet per second. Should traffic slow or someone suddenly shift into your lane, you have less than a second to avoid a wreck. The chances of your being able to do so if you look away from the road for even a second is slim to none.
Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance. To find out more about how you can save money on home owner’s insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.