FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|CONTACT:||Buel C. Young|
|MVA Organization Relations|
Stormy Weather Demands Careful Driving
Maryland Laws Regarding Speed, Malfunctioning Traffic Lights and other Rules of the Road
Glen Burnie, MD (June 5, 2008): Severe weather causes problems on the roadways and it is important for all drivers to understand and regularly review the "Rules of the Road." Here's a quick review that all drivers should heed when the weather makes driving hazardous:
First, and foremost, it is Maryland law that you must turn on your headlights when you are using your windshield wipers. Although your car may be equipped with running lights, headlights attract more attention in bad weather. You must also turn on your headlights when you cannot see the vehicles in front of you, generally at a distance of 1,000 feet or less.
You must slow down when the pavement is wet. Wet pavement is far more slippery than when the pavement is dry.
During a storm, when road conditions are poor, the posted speed limit is not necessarily the safest speed at which to travel.
Hydroplaning can occur at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. Most tires with tread will "wipe" the road surface the way a windshield wiper cleans the windshield. As speed increases, the wiping action of the tires becomes less effective and tires start to ride on a layer of water just as though they were water-skis.
The extent of hydroplaning increases with speed and with the amount of water on the highway. At 55 miles per hour - in a severe rainstorm - the tires may lose contact with the pavement. When the depth of water exceeds the tread depth, you can expect to hydroplane at 50 to 60 miles per hour. When this happens, you cannot brake, accelerate or properly turn. As soon as you feel any loss of control, take your foot off the gas pedal and hold the steering wheel firmly in the direction you intend to go. Allow your vehicle speed to decrease until you regain complete control of the vehicle.
When the road is wet, it is much more difficult to hold the road on curves and it takes a longer distance to stop.
Be especially careful at the beginning of a light rain; the mixture of oil and water on the pavement is particularly dangerous. The oils and other vehicle fluids have not been washed away yet as they would after a rain of several hours. Similarly, watch out for wet leaves on pavement.
Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. Most rear-end collisions are caused by following too closely.
Watch the car ahead of you when it passes a reference point, such as a sign or overpass. The general rule is that you should allow a three to four second following distance in normal weather conditions because it takes about 4 seconds to stop a car (perception time, reaction time, and vehicle capacity). In inclement weather, always allow more stopping distance between vehicles.
Malfunctioning Traffic Lights:
When a traffic light is malfunctioning or not working, you should treat this intersection as a four-way stop sign. Come to a complete stop and yield to all other traffic, then proceed when the way is clear.
The Maryland Driver's Handbook is available at all MVA branch offices and online.