Some things make driving dangerous that you probably already know about. You probably already know that it’s dangerous to text and drive. You probably already know that driving in heavy rain or snow can be dangerous, too.
Chances are, you are already looking out for these types of things every time you get behind the wheel. But there are other road dangers that could get you into a serious accident that you may not even be aware of.
Emergency vehicles, like fire trucks and ambulances, are there when we need them. They speed through the streets to get to the location of an emergency quickly, but they can cause problems of their own.
Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles can cause accidents, too. They can come up behind you unexpectedly, causing a split second of panic that can end up causing you to veer out of your lane or slam on your brakes. They can also speed through intersections, even when there’s a red light, which can cause an accident if you don’t hear or see them coming.
Never drive with the radio on so loud that you can’t hear an approaching emergency vehicle, and never drive with headphones on. That way, you’re more likely to see and hear an emergency vehicle as soon as possible so you can get out of the way safely.
Poorly Painted or Obscured Road Lines
Lines on the road tell you where the lanes are. They can also provide you with other information. Yellow lines separate traffic flowing in opposite directions, for example, while solid and dashed lines indicate whether you can legally pass another vehicle.
Unfortunately, those cues aren’t always there for us to reference. Whether they were poorly painted, they have faded over time, or the lines have been obscured by snow, not being able to see road lines can spell disaster.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you can’t see the lines on the road, drive in the furthest right-hand lane, just in case. Never pass another vehicle unless you can see the dashed yellow lines clearly.
Improperly Graded Roads
Roads are supposed to be graded, which means they are smoothed out after the cement is poured and construction is complete. Unfortunately, not all roads are graded properly, which can make them bumpy, loud, and uneven.
At the very least, a loud, poorly graded road can startle drivers, causing them to slam on the brakes or jerk the wheel, especially if the road makes it sound like they have drifted from their lane on the highway.
Improperly graded roads also wear unevenly. They can cause water to pool and freeze or encourage surfaces to become even more uneven until they crack.
Drive over improperly graded roads carefully. By being more alert, you’re less likely to be startled by a loud, uneven road and accidentally cause an accident.
Sharp or Strange Turns
Most roads, especially in the United States, meet at 90-degree angles. In addition, most roads are straight or only curve slightly, but that doesn’t mean all roads follow these rules.
Some turns are quite sharp, while others may loop around strangely. Some turns don’t even look like turns at all, which can be confusing if you’re listening to a GPS system that’s telling you where to turn next.
Slowing down is the best way to deal with sharp or strange turns. Most have slower speed limits that are posted, giving you a clue that you’re coming up on a strange turn that may surprise you. If you’re using a GPS system, glance at the map instead of relying on the voice if you’re approaching a strange intersection.
Driving in the dark is inherently more dangerous than driving during the day. Many rural roads aren’t lit at all. Some city streets have the opposite problem. There’s so much reflected light that it can be blinding, especially if you’re driving in unfamiliar territory.
Your car can cause problems too. If your headlights are dirty or damaged, they won’t shine as brightly, which makes it harder to see the road in front of you.
Make sure your headlights are clean and clear of debris, drive through poorly lit areas more slowly, and keep your windshield clean to avoid the glare of headlights and city signs.
It’s easy to space out a little bit when you’re driving a car. That’s especially true if you’re driving a route that you’re extremely familiar with, but that’s what makes animals so dangerous.
They can jump out in front of your car in an instant, giving you almost no time to react. A few animals that can cause trouble on the road include:
Unexpected animals are even more dangerous. You might be so surprised to see a possum, skunk, or even a bear that your reaction time is further reduced.
Be extra cautious in heavily wooded areas where animals are more likely to live. You should also be careful in the evening. That’s when some animals become more active, but it’s also when they’re more difficult to see.
Trash and Road Debris
Unfortunately, some drivers treat the road as their own personal trash can. Paper cups, sandwich wrappers, and plastic bags can blow through the air, hitting your car, which can startle you enough to drive unsafely.
Road debris can be dangerous too. Shredded tires on the interstate and fallen materials from the backs of trucks can litter the road, causing you to swerve to get out of the way.
Always drive over trash that won’t damage your car. Slow down, use your turn signal, and merge into another lane carefully when driving around more solid pieces of debris.
By all means, avoid using your cell phone and pull over on the side of the road when it rains, but make sure you’re also aware of these road dangers if you want to stay safe behind the wheel.