As Maryland braces for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) is reminding drivers of the dangers of driving during and after storms.
As a part of raising awareness, in a press release issued Saturday, the MVA urged drivers to avoid any travel if Sandy hits land until the storm has passed. Concerns about the potential for malfunctioning traffic signals was shared.
“Often following severe weather, traffic signals may malfunction or not work at all; the MVA also reminds motorists of Maryland's new law to treat all intersections without functioning traffic signals as a four-way stop. It is essential that motorist obey the rules of the road to maintain safe traffic flow on Maryland roadways.”
The MVA offers the following tips:
In the event no traffic lights are illuminated, drivers are expected to treat intersections as 4-way stops.
Bring your vehicle to a complete stop, look both ways and then proceed when it is safe to do so.
If two vehicles approach the intersection from different roadways at the same time, the driver on the left must yield the right-of-way to the vehicle to his or her immediate right.
If the traffic light is flashing red in all directions, treat the intersection as a 4-way stop.
Stop your vehicle before the crosswalk or white line and wait until it's your turn to proceed.
Remember to look both ways and keep an eye out for pedestrians and other vehicles that may fail to stop at the light.
Malfunctioning traffic lights may also flash yellow. This is a warning for drivers to proceed with caution.
Stay alert and look both ways before entering the intersection.
Finally, in order to prevent collisions and maintain traffic flow, police officers are sometimes posted at malfunctioning traffic lights. In these cases, always follow the instructions of the officer.
The MVA offers 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.
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.
Do not drive through flooded roads. There is no way to tell how deep the water is or if the road has been washed out. Report flooded roadways to local law enforcement or call 911.
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. In inclement weather, always allow more stopping distance between vehicles.
"We want to make certain that all Marylanders are safe during the upcoming storm," said John Kuo MVA Administrator and Governor O'Malley's Highway Safety Representative. "These 'Rules of the Road' can be lifesaving."
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