As we all know, April is known for rainstorms that help plants bloom and make driving more dangerous. As Spring heads toward summer, the warmer weather also draws more pedestrians out of their homes and onto city streets. The following tips will help you avoid costly and potentially tragic accidents.
April Showers Bring Hydroplaning
Hydroplaning occurs when water gets between your tires and the road. It can make your car skid out of control, so please heed the following tips.
- If your car feels like it’s “gliding” out of control, try not to panic. Grip your steering wheel, gently ease your foot off the gas pedal (rather than using the brakes) and try to avoid steering too much. As your vehicle slows, you will feel it regain contact with the road, allowing you to resume control.
- If you apply your brakes under normal circumstances (like when you are approaching a red light) and your car begins to skid, again, try not to panic. Steer in the direction you want to go and try to avoid stomping on the brake pedal, which can cause your vehicle to spin out of control.
- Try to avoid sudden movements. Steering, braking, and accelerating should all be done gently and carefully on wet roads.
- Slow down. Slippery surfaces increase the amount of time you need to safely stop your vehicle, so maintain more distance between you and the car in front of you. Don’t just watch the car directly in front of you, look at the bigger picture down the road, keeping an eye out for brake lights.
- Give yourself more time to reach your destination. Traffic will be moving slower and rushing to a destination can cause accidents.
- Fresh rain brings out the oils on roadways and makes conditions slicker, so be extra careful when rain first starts falling, even just a drizzle.
- DO NOT use cruise control in the rain. You need full control of your vehicle.
- Use your defroster to avoid windshield fogging that interferes with visibility.
- Make sure all your lights are working before you start driving. If your windshield wipers are on, your lights should be, too. New York State Law requires headlights in all inclement weather. Headlights not only increase visibility for you they make it easier for other drivers to see you.
- Check your tires for sufficient tread and the appropriate tire pressure and make sure your windshield wipers are operating properly. Wipers should be replaced if they are leaving streaks or not sufficiently clearing away water.
- Try to avoid areas prone to flooding. If you take a different route than you normally would, explain your reasoning to your passengers.
- Never drive into a flooded area. It can be deadly. If you’re not sure how deep a large puddle is, turn around and find another way. NEVER drive through moving water if you can’t see the bottom.
- Drive in another vehicle’s tracks, when possible.
- Try to avoid large trucks and buses. The spray created by large tires can reduce visibility.
- Beware of gusty winds that can push your car (or other vehicles) out of your lane or cause a loss of control. If it’s windy, keep a firm grip on your steering wheel and give a wide berth to other vehicles.
- Take care not to splash pedestrians.
- Use middle lanes, when possible. Water tends to pool in outside lanes.
- Pull over if you can’t see the cars in front of you or are having difficulty controlling your vehicle, and wait for the rain to slow down.
Parade and Street Fair Season
Parades and street fairs become more common as the weather warms, causing inconvenient detours and safety hazards from careless pedestrians.
- Before your shift starts, check newspapers and websites to learn the times and locations of street fairs and parades, so you can avoid them. Make note of street closings and find alternate routes in advance. Always explain your reasoning to passengers, who might otherwise get annoyed.
- If parades or street fairs cause too much stress, consider working other shifts. If you find yourself in a frustrating situation, avoid succumbing to road rage.
- Parades and street fairs bring tourists to New York, which means more work for you. Be courteous to out-of-state drivers and assist them when possible. Remember: Once they park, they may call on you to get around the city.
- Outdoor events often bring together people to “party.” Drinking or smoking marijuana can make people careless, so be extra cautious near crowds.
In New York City, millions of people cross intersections at all hours, every day. Remember: All vehicles must yield to all pedestrians at all times at all locations.
- Avoid frightening pedestrians by blowing your horn or angering them by accelerating towards them. An annoyed pedestrian might bang on the hood of your vehicle or fall down and make a fraudulent claim.
- ALWAYS call the police and make a report if you are involved in an incident or accident involving a pedestrian. DO NOT leave the scene or you can be arrested, even if you know your vehicle did not make contact with anyone.
- Anticipate unsafe acts by pedestrians talking on a cell phone or other pedestrians, eating, or just daydreaming while crossing an intersection.
- By extra cautious near senior citizens. Their hearing/vision may be impaired.
- Use extra caution when darkness falls, your visibility will be diminished.
- Expect the unexpected – like pedestrians crossing between double-parked vehicles or jaywalking in front of a bus loading passengers.
Pedicabs are notorious for slowing traffic and making unsafe maneuvers when responding to a potential passenger, which is why it’s important to remember they must be treated like pedestrians and bicyclists. You must yield to them at all times, regardless of the circumstances.
- Be professional and attentive to your passengers so they choose you over a pedicab for future transportation. Point out sights to tourists and show them you can be as helpful and courteous as pedicab operators. Your service is safer, more comfortable and generally less expensive than pedicabs.
- Use extra caution and be prepared to drive defensively in areas frequented by pedicabs, like Times Square, Central Park South and Central Park.