Cumberland Times-News

October 29, 2012

Road safety

If you can’t stay at home, follow these driver’s tips


Cumberland Times-News

— The best thing to do when confronted by extreme weather like that predicted for the next couple of days is to stay home ... unless, of course, you have to leave it because of flooding.

Not everyone can stay home, either. If you do go out, be aware that heavy rain and wind can cause serious problems. Disabled vehicles will be towed.

Watch for flooded roads and downed trees, and never drive across a road covered with water that may contain a deep hole. Some years ago, a motorist tried to drive through the Virginia Avenue underpass when it was flooded. The car stalled and the driver had problems escaping the rapidly rising water because the power windows didn’t work.

In any case, slow down when the pavement is wet because the roadway is slippery and  it takes longer to stop. Leave more distance than usual between your car and the car ahead of you.

Tires can hydroplane, causing the driver to lose control. If this happens to you, take your foot off the gas pedal — don’t apply the brake — and steer in the direction you want to go, allowing the car to slow down until you regain control.

 Remember that Maryland law requires you to turn on your headlights when you are using your windshield wipers.

If power is out and traffic lights aren’t working, treat intersections as four-way stops. That means you bring the car to a complete stop, look both ways and proceed when it is safe to do so. When two vehicles approach an intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way. Keep an eye out for pedestrians and never assume that the other car is going to stop.

Traffic information, including the locations of roads that may be closed due to flooding, is available on-line at www.511md.org, or by calling 511. Other information is available on the State Highway Administration website at www.roads.maryland.gov.

Do not call police or 911 centers for road conditions, but only to report emergency situations.

Remember to keep your cell phone charged.

If you must evacuate your home, don’t forget to provide for your pets. Make sure the animal has a collar with identification that includes a phone number. Bring a supply of food and water and the pet’s medication, along with a crate and leash and a few of the animal’s favorite toys.

Also have a photo of your pet so it can be identified in the event it gets lost.