Spring Driving Safety Tips in Durango
Spring in southwestern Colorado brings warmer temperatures, but also more precipitation and water as snow melts. Although winter is best known for its treacherous driving conditions with snow, ice, and slush on the road, maneuvering your car in spring can equally become demanding. There are many possible road challenges and conditions such as unexpected weather changes and increased traffic that could alter driving behavior.
Prepare for Heavy Snowmelt on the Road and Flooding
This year, there are potential risks of flooding from the spring runoff on the 416 Fire burn scar. These could affect houses, structures, and roads adjacent to the burn area. In addition, the heavy snowpack enhances the risks of debris flow. Aquatic ecologist Scott Roberts said that the Mountain Institute Studies will continue to monitor the Animas River and Hermosa Creek before and during the spring runoff.
However, if you find yourself on a flooded road, ensure that your headlights and hazard lights are on. Drive slowly and steadily and look at the other cars around you to estimate the depth you are in. Don’t drive into flood water that’s moving or 4 inches deep. Fast-flowing water can easily knock you off your feet if you get out of the car and 6 inches of water could cause your car to stall while 12 inches of water could submerge your vehicle. Once you are out of the standing water, test your brakes gently and maintain a low speed.
Dealing with the Unpredictable Weather in Spring
Sometimes, you might also find yourself in a snowstorm and it’s important to prepare your vehicle for the unexpected. Don’t change your winter tires to all-weather ones before April as Durango can still get snow in spring. Reduce speed to avoid skidding and increase your normal following distance from 3-4 seconds on dry pavement to 8-10 seconds when driving on slick roads.
In addition, keep your eyes on the road and don’t text or do something else while driving. Not only is there increased human and vehicular traffic on the road, animal crossings are also up in spring. Something as basic as fastening your seat belt before driving off and avoiding alcohol or substances can spell the difference between life and death.
Sam Cole of the Colorado Department of Transportation revealed that about a third of deadly crashes involve impaired drivers. Fatal crashes are caused by one or a combination of 3 factors: speed, impaired or unbelted drivers. He said, “We saw impaired fatalities go up … in 2017. We also noticed a spike in unbelted fatalities.”
Safe driving is important across all seasons. Awareness of road conditions ensure that you are prepared and can react properly in cases of adverse weather. Above all, behaving responsibly while driving reduces injuries and deaths on the roadways.