Being a safe driver goes beyond obeying traffic rules and road signs. It also includes dealing with varying road conditions.
This is especially true in Colorado, where there are 4 distinct seasons. Should your driving method be the same during summer and winter?
Beyond the seasons, you need to consider other environmental factors, like driving at night or during a storm.
Sometimes it’s about the layout of the land.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to Colorado road conditions.
Don’t worry, though.
We’re here to help.
Today, we’re going to give you the best safety tips during the most common road conditions in the state.
So let’s get started!
Safe Driving Tips for Common Road Conditions in Colorado
Let’s go through the common road conditions you may experience in Colorado and what to do in each.
Safe Driving Tips in Hills and Curves
What’s the challenge? Even if it’s a bright, sunny day, you’ll lose some visibility when driving along a curve. You won’t have as clear a view of what’s coming towards you until you’re halfway through the bend.
Hills may obstruct obstacles on the road, putting you in a precarious situation.
You also have gravity working against you when driving uphill. In contrast, you need more stopping distance when heading down.
What should you do? Since both scenarios give you an obstructed view, it’s always best to slow down.
Remember, besides other vehicles, you need to watch out for pedestrians and animals, too. If you’re traveling too fast, you may not have enough time to avoid hitting them.
Besides that, you’re more likely to lose control of your car if you drive too fast on a curved road. In a worst-case scenario, you may skid or rollover.
Another good tip is to try turning your car as little as possible. This requires you to move to the outer lane, so only to it if there are not many vehicles around.
If you’re in a stop-and-go situation going uphill, don’t forget to use your handbrakes when you’re not moving. Vehicles with hill-hold technology hold the brakes while you transfer your foot from the brake to the accelerator. But without it, you may begin to slide backward.
Once you’ve passed the crest and started going downhill, your main objective is to prevent your car from going too fast. This time, gravity pulls you down. It’s best to use your brakes until you reach the foot of the hill.
Safe Driving Tips at Night
What’s the challenge? According to MoneyGeek, around half of fatal crashes in the U.S. happen at night. No matter how experienced you are, driving in the dark will always be more dangerous.
Non-fatal accidents often occur between 4 pm to 7:59 pm. You’ll see the same pattern for fatal crashes from Mondays to Thursdays. More deadly collisions happen between 8:00 pm and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Reduced visibility, distracted drivers, and fatigue contribute to these figures.
What should you do? Of course, Slowing down makes the trip safer. However, there are other things you can do to ensure you and your passengers are protected.
- Increase your visibility by dimming your dashboard. Have just enough brightness to see your instrumentation, but not so much that it reflects on the windows or the windshield.
- Never forget to keep your headlights on when driving between sunset and sunrise. High beams are typically better to use at night, especially in rural areas or on open highways. Just make sure you switch it to low beam if there is another vehicle approaching.
- Do not look straight into an oncoming car’s headlights. Keep your eyes down and to the right, using the road markings as a guide.
- Be 100% alert when you’re driving, more so at night. You might be traveling with darker vehicles that don’t have their lights on.
- Take breaks if you feel drowsy. It’s safer to stop at a lay-by area for a couple of minutes than to risk driving unfocused.
Safe Driving Tips in Bad Weather
What’s the challenge? Unfavorable weather can mean rain, fog, dust, and high winds. These make roads slippery and reduce visibility.
Hydroplaning, where your car’s tires lose their grip on the road and travel on a film of water instead, becomes more common. You’ll have little to no control over your vehicle if it happens.
What should you do? You may instinctively want to slam on the breaks or steer your car in your preferred direction, but it’s best if you don’t. The best things to do are ease your foot off the gas and keep your steering wheel straight. When you feel your tires grip the road again, you can attempt to turn or stop.
In foggy weather, use your fog lights to see the road.
If your vehicle is newer and has rear fog lights, turn these on. Although they don’t help with your visibility, they will warn vehicles behind you of your location, preventing rear-end collisions.
Safe Driving Tips in Snow and Ice
What’s the challenge? Although Colorado didn’t make the top 10 most dangerous states for winter driving, it doesn’t mean precautions aren’t necessary.
Around 9.5% of motor vehicle crashes from 2007 to 2016 involved snow, sleet, and ice. That translates to over 562,182 incidents.
Roads become most dangerous when snow or ice begins to melt. It causes vehicles to lose traction.
Another danger is that ice and snow can exist in pockets. So you may find them on overpasses, bridges, or shaded areas even if the rest of the road is dry.
What should you do? If you can’t avoid going out, make sure you’re familiar with your car and how it reacts to icy roads. A slow pace never hurts, even if it’s below the speed limit.
Also, you’ll need more stopping distance on icy roads, so it’s better to allow at least 5 to 6 seconds between you and the vehicle before you. This way, you’ll have enough space to avoid a collision even if they suddenly stop.
If you’re nearing a traffic light, try to decelerate enough to roll to a stop. This will prevent you from skidding.
If you feel your vehicle begin to skid on the ice, take your foot off the gas and turn your front wheels in the direction you’re going. Don’t try to overcorrect — it may cause you to continue spinning and lead to a crash.
Safe Driving Tips in the Mountains
What’s the challenge? When driving through a mountainous route, you may experience several road conditions on the same trip! Prepare to encounter steep hills, varying weather conditions, rocks, and wildlife on the road.
What should you do? If you’re using a stick shift while heading down, remember to shift to a lower gear. It’ll help you control your speed better.
Intersections aren’t as visible on mountain roads as in the city. Watch out for the intersections that trees or brushes hide. Also, be careful not to hit animals that may be near the roadway.
In contrast, if you’re heading up and notice you’re having difficulty, pull off the road and let the other vehicles pass you.
Safe Driving Tips in Rural Areas
What’s the challenge? Rural areas are another location where you’ll need to watch out for several things. These may include unmarked roads and railroad crossings, farm equipment, and narrow bridges.
Sometimes, brush, trees, and crops hide intersections. These make it challenging to see vehicles that may be coming your way.
What should you do? Like most road conditions, driving slower is safest. Some rural roads have a speed limit over 50mph, but it’s best to base your speed on your surroundings rather than what’s on the sign.
Dirt roads lessen traction, like roads with gravel. You’d be better off driving slower on both.
Houses may be more scattered in rural areas, so driveways might be harder to spot. Be particularly careful if you’re driving along a curvy or hilly road. You might not be able to see another vehicle pulling out onto the road until it’s too late.
Keep a safe distance from tractors or ATVs. Their drivers may have more limited visibility because of the size of their motor vehicles. If you plan to pass them, make sure you have enough room to maneuver.
There are instances wherein you’ll see livestock on the road. Avoid honking or revving your engine because these may spook the animals. And no matter what happens, stay inside your car.
Safe Driving Tips in Construction Zones
What’s the challenge? It’s bound to happen. You’ll eventually encounter a construction zone in Colorado, so it’s best to know the potential dangers.
Companies will put up signs and warnings in the area, so always watch out for those.
They also reduce speed limits to give you more time to navigate around the construction equipment. But those aren’t the only things you’ll need to be wary of — you’ll also have to watch out for construction workers.
What should you do? Comply with the warnings and road signs. These may make driving through the area longer and slower, but they’re there to prevent unwanted accidents.
Stay focused on the road and your surroundings. There are more in your direct vicinity, so it’s easier to collide with something or someone.
Pay attention to the car ahead of you. Distracted drivers are often involved in worksite crashes. If you encounter another driver demonstrating aggressive behavior, don’t engage.
The Wrap Up
Yes, you will encounter a lot of varying road conditions in Colorado.
There’s no avoiding them.
However, you can learn how to drive safely through these conditions.
And although some safety tips like slowing down and staying alert may seem customary, you’d be surprised how often drivers fail to observe these driving behaviors.
So make sure you’re always aware of these safe driving tips as you drive through the various road conditions.