evacuation route road sign

 

Staying safe on the roads during an emergency evacuation is critical to your safety, whether a hurricane is headed your way, a wildfire is encroaching, or other emergencies arise that lead to mandatory evacuations.

Here are 10 tips to help drivers stay safe during emergency evacuations, prioritizing their well-being and the safety of others on the road.

 

#1 – Plan and Prepare in Advance

When an emergency evacuation is imminent, it is crucial to plan and prepare in advance. Pack an emergency kit with essentials such as food, water, medications, a flashlight, and a fully charged mobile phone. Ensuring your vehicle is in good condition and fueled up or charged up before the evacuation begins is also vital. If you are travelling with children, make sure to have items to keep them occupied, so you can focus on the road.  Have a plan of action, and more than one safe destination chosen, so you can adjust if needed.

 

#2 – Follow Official Guidelines

Stay updated on storm-related information provided by local authorities or emergency management agencies such as the National Weather Service. Follow their evacuation orders and guidelines regarding the designated emergency evacuation routes and shelters. Their expertise will ensure the safest possible journey and protect you from potential hazards. Adhering to their instructions is critical for your safety and the smooth flow of traffic. Don’t wait too long.  Last-second evacuations become higher risks, when drivers become more panicked on the roads, and emergency resources possibly unavailable.

 

#3 – Stay Informed about Weather Conditions

lightning storm

Stay updated on the latest weather conditions during the evacuation. Check weather forecasts and listen to emergency radio channels for updates. Being aware of changing weather patterns will help you anticipate any additional challenges you may encounter during the evacuation process. Adjust your driving speed and route accordingly to ensure your safety on the road.

 

#4 – Use Navigation and Traffic Apps

Utilize navigation and traffic apps to stay updated on real-time road conditions, traffic congestion, and alternative routes. Apps like Google Maps or Waze can provide valuable information to help you navigate through traffic, avoid road closures that often occur during an emergency evacuation, so you can make informed decisions about your route. These apps can save you time, reduce stress, and improve overall safety.  Have a passenger help with managing the app.  Don’t take your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel to tend to your phone.

 

#5 – Drive Defensively

drivercare risk manager

During an emergency evacuation, roads can become congested and chaotic. Drive defensively, obey traffic rules, and be patient. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes and mind on the road.  Watch for changing traffic patterns, as you may encounter detours and reverse traffic flows.  Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and others, maintaining the recommended three-second gap. Stay alert for sudden braking or lane changes from surrounding vehicles and be prepared to react accordingly. Your defensive driving skills can help prevent accidents and keep traffic flowing smoothly.  Fleets can help drivers prepare for defensive driving through proactive assignment of defensive driver online training.

 

#6 – Use Headlights and Signals

Turn on your headlights, even during daylight hours, to enhance your visibility to other drivers. This helps in avoiding potential accidents due to reduced visibility caused by heavy rain or fog. Additionally, use your turn signals earlier and more prominently than usual to alert other drivers of your intentions in advance.

 

#7 – Slow Down and Maintain Distance

Reduced visibility and slippery roads require you to adjust your driving speed. Maintaining a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead is essential, as it allows for better reaction time. The three-second rule (maintaining a three-second gap between you and the car in front) is especially crucial during storms.  Reduce your speed to match the road conditions.

 

#8 – Watch for Hydroplaning

speeding in standing water

Avoid sudden acceleration or braking that can lead to skidding or hydroplaning. Hydroplaning occurs when your vehicle loses contact with the road surface due to a layer of water between the tires and the road. To prevent hydroplaning, avoid driving through large puddles and maintain a lower speed when driving on wet roads. If you do experience hydroplaning, gently ease off the accelerator and steer straight until you regain control.

 

#9 – Avoid Cruise Control

Avoid using cruise control when driving in an emergency evacuation. Cruise control may increase the risk of losing control of your vehicle on slippery roads, and impact your reaction time when travelling in chaotic situations. By manually controlling your speed, you can respond more effectively to changing road conditions and maintain better control over your vehicle.

 

#10 – Stay Calm and Focused

In high-stress situations, such as an emergency evacuation, it is important to remain calm and focused. Keep distractions to a minimum, such as using your mobile phone or adjusting the radio. Maintain a clear mind, both for your own safety and to react effectively to any sudden changes in traffic or weather conditions. Remember that your focus and composure can help prevent accidents and ensure a safe evacuation.

 

 

In conclusion, by implementing these essential tips and strategies, drivers can navigate emergency evacuations with a greater sense of safety. Remember to prioritize preparedness, follow official guidelines, stay informed, drive safely, and stay calm and focused. By doing so, you can contribute to a smoother and safer evacuation process for everyone involved.

 

Drive safe and stay safe!

 

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