Natural disasters pose a unique risk to drivers
- Auto insurance
- Planning ahead
Regardless of how prepared we may feel for a looming natural disaster, Mother Nature tends to have her own plans. Natural disasters are notorious for damaging property and infrastructure, but what effect do they have on drivers?
What happens if you’re driving and get caught in a hurricane, earthquake, winter storm, tornado or even a wildfire? The United States Department of Transportation says that 21% of all vehicle crashes and 16% of fatalities happen due to weather. Natural disaster road safety is a life-or-death matter and we don’t want you becoming a statistic.
Prepare for natural disaster road safety
Fortunately, we get advance notice of many natural disasters. News and weather apps will send out multiple warnings so that you know the expected severity and are able to plan – or alter plans – accordingly to maximize safety. Other times, you have no choice; you have to go out into that blizzard, or a mudslide comes out of nowhere.
- Check the weather and road condition reports. If the roads are treacherous, pull over to a safe location to wait it out. Better to be late than injured.
- Maintain a full tank of gas. It can be difficult to find a gas station that is open or accessible during or after a disaster. Don’t risk getting stranded.
- Check the depth of standing water whenever possible. When you encounter deep water, it’s best to find another route. You don’t want to end up with an inoperable car.
- Assume that all downed power lines are live or active. Do not touch or come into contact with them or anything they are touching.
- Ensure that your car is in working condition by scheduling regular preventative maintenance. A natural disaster is a terrible time for your breaks to go out.
- Avoid touching metal during a lightning storm. If you’re in your car and it gets struck by lightning, the metal exterior will transmit the current to the ground and provide a degree of safety. Stay in your car until the current has dissipated.
- Leave a six-second gap between you and the car in front of you. This is always good advice, but it’s imperative when the road is wet. If you hydroplane, let go of the gas and steer straight until you regain control of the vehicle.
- Abandon vehicles stuck in water immediately. Do not wait. Get to higher ground before the flooding gets worse.
- Don’t rely on technology. Cell service and GPS may be down in disaster affected areas. Consider using paper maps if you’re traveling in an unfamiliar area. And remember to practice safe driving where signs are knocked over and traffic lights are out.
- Pack an emergency supply kit. Always keep the following emergency supplies in your vehicle:
- Rain poncho
- Charged fire extinguisher
- Dry food
- Dry change of clothing
- Spare fuses
- Windshield washer fluid
- First aid kit
- Cat litter
Worried? We’re here for you. Call the VIU by HUB Advisory Team with any insurance questions or concerns or for help on how to navigate weather-related claims.