Driving safety tips for severe summer weather

Storms are hitting Americans hard this season. Tornadoes, hailstorms and other severe weather can pop up with little warning, and the safest place you can be is inside a sturdy building. But what if you're on the road, where the only shelter is your car?
If you're planning a road trip, be sure to plan for severe weather. Progressive recommends doing the following before you leave home:
  • Put together a roadside emergency kit with blankets, a flashlight and anything else that you may need in emergencies.
  • Maintain your vehicle, making sure tires, wiper blades, headlights and flashers are in good condition.
  • Fill up on gas to be sure that you have enough to get where you need to go if there are weather-related detours.
  • If possible, drive a vehicle with a low center of gravity. If you get caught in high winds, vehicles like full-size vans and SUVs are more likely to roll over.
Even if you prepare, you might find yourself driving into a storm. Here are some tips for riding it out safely:
  • Slow down in bad weather. Slick roads make stopping difficult, so you'll need to increase your following distance (the amount of space between you and the car ahead), according to Progressive. If the car ahead stops suddenly, that space cushion could spare you an accident -- and an auto insurance claim.
  • If there's a tornado, look for shelter, Progressive recommends. If you can't find shelter, lie down in a low area, like a ravine, and cover the back of your neck with your hands.
  • Stay alert and look for flooded streets, downed power lines or other threats.
  • If you encounter flooded streets, don't try to drive through any standing water. Motorists driving into deceptively deep water and losing control of their vehicles is the cause of many flood deaths, according to Progressive.
  • Progressive recommends pulling over for hail and severe storms involving high winds. If there's hail, seek shelter, like an underpass. Stay inside your vehicle, and if a window breaks, protect your face and hands.
  • Turn on your headlights, according to Weather.com. This will help other drivers see you through the fog or rain.
  • Keep your radio on, and listen for weather updates.
  • If traffic lights at intersections aren't working, treat them like they're stop signs, according to Weather.com.
  • If you're driving in high winds, look out for larger vehicles, like trailers or trucks, according to State Farm. They may drift out of their lanes.

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