AAA provides tips for motorists as remnants of Harvey head toward Tennessee

From Staff Reports • Aug 31, 2017 at 9:01 AM

KNOXVILLE – As remnants of Tropical Storm Harvey head toward parts of Tennessee, AAA is urging motorists to use caution when getting behind the wheel.

Trucks, vans, SUVs and trailers are more vulnerable to high wind gusts and could potentially be pushed around or flipped by high winds. If winds are severe, AAA recommends that drivers safely pull over onto the shoulder of the road and stop. Drivers should also stay up-to-date on local weather forecasts and road conditions.

“The remnants of Tropical Storm Harvey are on the way and we expect to see not only an increased chance of rainfall but unsafe driving conditions, as well,” said Stephanie Milani, Tennessee Public Affairs Director for AAA. “Drivers can take steps to protect themselves before they travel, and while on the road, to ensure a safe commute.”

Tips to prepare

• Be aware of the weather.

• Prepare your vehicle.

• Test tire pressure: Recommended tire pressures are for cold tires. You can find the recommended inflation pressures for your car’s tires in the vehicle’s owner’s manual or on the tire information decal attached to the driver’s door jamb.

• Check tread depth: Your tires are the only part of the car that has direct contact with the road, so it is important they are in good shape. To test tread depth, insert a quarter into a tread groove with the top of Washington’s head facing down. If the top of his head is not visible, your tires have at least 4/32” of tread and are fine for continued use. If you can see above the top of Washington’s head, it is time to start shopping for new tires. Take measurements in three locations across the tire’s tread: outer edge, center and inside edge.

• Pack an emergency kit: If you must travel a long distance in the storm, take extra supplies such as extra clothing, shoes, non-perishable food items, water, a cell phone charger and extra medication.

Driving in strong storms and heavy winds

• Anticipate gusts: Pay attention when driving through areas prone to strong winds or when weather reports forecast severe weather.

• Reduce speed and avoid using cruise control.

• Firmly grip the steering wheel. Know your vehicle, light cars, vans and other “boxy” vehicles are more likely to be blown by strong gusts of wind.

• Increase space between your vehicle and other motorists, especially vans, recreational vehicles and cars pulling trailers which may be adversely affected by the wind.

• Drive in these conditions only when absolutely necessary.

Driving on wet roads

• Slow sown and leave room: Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car’s chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. With as little as ½ inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway. Also, it is important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them and beginning to slow down to stop for intersections, turns and other traffic early.

• Avoid cruise control: This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car’s speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.

• Rainy conditions can cause low visibility: Turn on your headlights to help you see better and to allow other motorists to spot you better. Avoid using your high beams because you could blind other drivers and the extra light will reflect off the rain, causing more of a distraction for you.

• Visibility while driving: If you can’t see the edges of the road or other vehicles at a safe distance while driving during wet weather, pull of the road as far as you can and wait for the rain to ease up. Make sure to turn on emergency flashers to alert other drivers.

• Avoid standing water and flooded roads at all times: There is no way to tell how deep standing water is on a flooded road and driving through it can cause a vehicle to stall and result in severe damage to the vehicle from flooding the engine, warping brake rotors, loss of power steering or a short in electrical components.

• If your vehicle stalls in a flooded area: Do not remain in the car. Abandon it as soon as possible and seek higher ground. Flood waters can elevate quickly, sweeping away the vehicle and its occupants.