Driving issues change with the seasons

By: Eric Czarnik | C&G Newspapers | Published April 6, 2015

A greener, warmer Michigan might signal the end of winter driving, but the end of winter advisory alerts doesn’t mean that drivers can let down their guard.

According to AAA Public Affairs Director Susan Hiltz, many people take road trips around this time of year. But she said some vehicles may need to prepare for a transition between local cold winter driving and driving over the next couple of months.

Road trips also require careful attention to surrounding traffic, she said.

“With the weather warming up, it’s important for all of us to not get overconfident with our driving and to still keep good driving skills … when we hit the road,” she said.

According to AAA, while the car is in motion, drivers should avoid distracted driving and put down the food and phone. They should also make sure they have had enough sleep beforehand and that they take rest stops at least once every 100 miles or every two hours on long trips, AAA said.

“It is estimated that 17 percent of all crashes are the result of drowsiness behind the wheel,” the agency said in a statement.

To make a car ready for a rainstorm, Hiltz said it is a good idea to check the windshield wipers’ condition every six months.

“We’ve had a pretty brutal winter, and our windshield wipers have been overused,” she said. “You want to make sure you’ve got good visibility on your windshield.”

AAA also recommends that vehicles get a car inspection and a battery check. Tires should be inspected for tread depth and inflation to ensure adequate traction.

Although the precipitation may no longer freeze, wet roads still may be slippery, which can cause a car to hydroplane.

In any adverse weather conditions, the most important precaution is to reduce one’s speed, according to Shellie Simmons, co-owner of Alpine Driving School in Southfield.

Simmons said a person generally should leave at least two to three seconds of following distance behind the vehicle ahead, and when it starts to rain, that following distance should be even longer.

“The posted speed limit is only set for ideal weather and road conditions,” she said.

Simmons said oil or grease residue makes roads more slippery when it first starts to rain. In addition, tires have a harder time gaining traction in wet conditions, she said.

Longer days also mean that the sun is out longer, and that can mean distracting or dangerous glare while it is rising or setting. To combat glare, a driver may wear sunglasses or use the sun visor, Simmons said.

Find out more about AAA Michigan by visiting www.michigan.aaa.com. Contact Alpine Driving School in Southfield by visiting www.alpinedrivingschoolinc.com or by calling (248) 663-2297.