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Driving in Dreadful Weather

Here in New Zealand, we’re lucky to be able to experience a variety of seasons and weather – beautiful sunny summers at the beach and carving up the snow through winter in our many mountainous regions. However, with the good comes the bad, and we also find ourselves freezing in the rain and whipped by the wind. Combine these with hilly, winding roads, and there’s potential for calamity when driving during dreadful weather.

Here are a few tips on combating the weather and driving safely throughout. That said – our number one tip is that if the weather is bad, wait it out and don’t drive unless you absolutely have to.

No matter the weather:

  • Drive to the conditions and watch your speed
  • Keep adequate following distances
  • Wear your seatbelt

Driving in wild wind

  • Watch for airborne debris
  • Park somewhere covered/safe – not under trees or powerlines
  • Take it slow – particularly if you’re driving a vehicle with tall, flat sides such as a van or truck
  • Tie down any loads with extra strapping (or wait until the wind dies down)
  • Anticipate gusts that could steer you off your course slightly
  • Pull over in a clear space in necessary

Driving in serious storms

  • Heavy rain can reduce visibility – turn lights on and slow down
  • Flash flooding can happen quickly and without warning. Avoid low-lying areas or driving near rivers
  • Take care around water on the road – surface water reduces traction and some areas of water may be deeper than they look
  • Avoid driving through flooded areas. A car can be carried away in just 30cm of water – even if it’s moving slowly, and major damage can be caused by water getting into the engine internals

Driving in fog

  • Visibility can be minimal – slow down and keep left
  • Turn fog/park lights or dipped lights on (but not high-beams as this makes the water in the air reflect back and further hamper visibility)
  • Keep windows clear
  • Wind down your window to better hear other cars approaching
  • If it’s impossible to see ahead, pull safely off the road (as far off as you can) and put your hazard lights on

Driving in snow

  • Avoid driving through snow, watch out for black ice
  • Ensure all windows are clear before heading off
  • Know how to put tyre chains on and which wheels to put them on (if your car is front or rear wheel drive)
  • Keep a kit in your car that includes warm clothing, a torch and batteries, non-perishable food, blanket and a shovel
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be there/back
  • Brake and corner slowly and carefully

AMI is proud to support a number of road safety initiatives across the country, including RYDA Young Drivers Road Safety Program, road safety week, and Dan’s Advanced Warning Signs. And don’t forget – staying safe on the road also includes insurance. See our car insurance page for more info on the types of cover and great benefits we offer.