In South Dakota, drivers have to face a range of different conditions, climates, and obstacles.
It’s no wonder it’s a requirement to practice several hours at night and in inclement weather before getting a driver’s license.
Well, if you’re unsure how to safely go through the South Dakota road conditions, then we’re here to help.
Whether you’re a new driver or already an experienced one, these safety tips we’ll be discussing are SO important.
We’ll look at:
- How to drive safely at night
- How to drive safely through work zones
- How to drive safely in winter
- How to drive safely through rural roads
- How to drive safely with deer
- How to drive safely in curves
- How to drive safely in floods
So buckle up and let’s look at these South Dakota road conditions and their safety tips!
How to Drive Safely at Night
Nighttime driving is often a challenge — for new and experienced drivers alike.
Less visibility means you’ll have to be extra careful and alert, especially in rural areas that aren’t well-lit.
So when driving at night, always turn on your headlights.
It’s a good idea to use the high beam to have a better view of your surroundings.
However, always switch to low-beam lights when there is oncoming traffic. You don’t want to blind the other drivers.
If it’s a rainy or foggy night, it’s best to use the low beam or fog lights. This will improve visibility better than the high beams.
Another good strategy is to lessen the lights on your dashboard. If the lights are too bright, it just might blind you momentarily — and that’s enough to cause an accident.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t wear sunglasses or colored lenses.
Because of headlights, it’s easy to spot vehicles around.
But what about the pedestrians?
You should always be alert for pedestrians crossing.
The same goes for any obstacle that might be on the way that doesn’t reflect light.
What if someone is flashing high-beam lights at you?
Never look directly at lights.
Instead, look to the right side of the road.
How to Drive Safely through Work Zones
Work zones come with many hazards.
Think uneven pavement, narrow lanes, merging traffic, heavy equipment, and more.
For the most part, work zones come with cones, barricades, signs, or flaggers — so be sure to look out for those and obey them.
Digital displays may also offer valuable information, warning you of road closures or diversions up ahead.
This will allow you to get in position before reaching the area.
But what if there are no signs?
ALWAYS make sure you slow down and maneuver carefully around the construction or maintenance.
If traffic is trying to merge into your lane, give way.
If you need to merge to another lane, do it slowly and carefully — and let the other drivers know your intentions.
How to Drive Safely in Winter
Driving in winter is arguably the most important condition you need to know how to tackle.
Numerous accidents occur each year during wintertime.
So when the cold season arrives, be prepared to switch to winter driving mode.
This demands slower speeds, greater braking distances, and more awareness on the road.
The one thing you want to avoid is hydroplaning.
This is when your vehicle slides out of control because it loses traction.
Slamming the brakes is one sure way to experience this — this is why we say reduce your speed and increase braking distance.
What if you do experience hydroplaning?
Simply remove your foot from the gas, keep your steering wheel straight, and slowly step on the brake (if it is an anti-lock brake).
This will slow your vehicle down and help it to regain traction.
Here’s another tip — keep a keen eye on the weather forecast and the conditions.
If a particular area is experiencing heavy snowfall, maybe try changing your route.
Or if not, maybe avoid going out altogether.
Also, make sure your vehicle is ready for the winter.
This can mean switching out the tires for winter ones, checking the vehicle’s condition, preparing a first aid kit, and all that.
How to Drive Safely through Rural Roads
If you’re used to urban roads and highways, then rural roads can be a challenge.
In rural areas, you’ll be faced with unmarked and dirt paths.
And these demand a different driving style to the city’s smoothened road.
As is the case for all safe driving tips, it’s best to slow down.
Dirt and gravel-ridden roads can make your tires lose traction easily — and we already know that never goes well with high speeds.
Another thing is to make sure to keep your eyes up ahead but also on the road below.
Be alert for other vehicles, pedestrians, and any obstacles ahead.
At the same time, look out for potholes and ditches, as these are common in rural areas.
On rural roads, you’ll most likely run into farm equipment — and you’ll have to share the road with those.
You’re allowed to pass farm equipment as long as you make your intentions known and you do so safely.
How to Drive Safely with Deer
From time to time, a deer might suddenly cross the road.
Failing to notice them on time can lead to disastrous events — one that can put your and others’ safety on the line.
Thankfully, in South Dakota, areas that are prone to deer spottings usually have a warning sign.
So be alert for these yellow signs with a deer on them. This means that deers usually cross the area.
When approaching these areas, be sure to scan the sides of the road and look out for them further ahead.
Also, remember that deers are most active during dawn and dusk.
If a deer is blocking your way, slow down in advance, allowing other drivers behind you to act accordingly.
At a slower speed, use the horn to attempt to scare the deer away OR be ready to stop if needed.
How to Drive Safely in Curves
Too often, drivers are caught off-guard by curves and don’t have enough time to slow down.
Being more aware of the signs indicating sharp curves will allow you to slow down and safely stay in your line while completing the turn.
This is especially important if vehicles are coming from the opposite direction.
Also, NEVER pass in curves as you cannot see approaching vehicles.
How to Drive Safely in Floods
While South Dakota isn’t prone to cyclones, heavy rains that contribute to standing water can and do occur.
If this is the case, then the best thing to do is find a different route.
You don’t want to go over a flood as your vehicle might stall.
If the flood is less than 10cm deep, you might attempt to cross.
If you do, make sure to go very, very slowly.
You don’t want to lose traction — but you don’t want water to be flying everywhere, too.
So those were just some of the most common South Dakota road conditions and their safety tips.
A common denominator for these tips is always to slow down.
If you’re unsure how to safely get through a road condition, just slow down.
But hopefully, you will keep ALL these safety tips in mind so that you will not only be extra careful but will also know the best way to go about it.
And, while you may not encounter all these conditions on the road, it’s best to know the major points to help you when the time comes.