Risk management

Defensive driving

Adjust to weather and road conditions

As part of your defensive driving program, you must know how to adjust to weather and road conditions. Weather and road conditions often lead to accidents, many of which are entirely preventable.

If you encounter bad weather or poor road conditions, do the following:

  • Slow down
  • Turn on lights and wipers
  • Increase following distance to 4 seconds
  • Avoid puddles
  • Beware of misty rain after a dry spell
  • Be prepared to handle a skid safely
  • Beware of icy patches
When the weather or road conditions are bad, you need to adjust your driving accordingly to prevent accidents.

Drive more slowly.

Turn on your lights and wipers, if necessary.

Increase following distance from 2 to 4 seconds in bad weather or when road conditions are poor

Avoid puddles. They can hide damaging potholes and get your brakes wet, which can make it harder to stop in an emergency.

Be cautious when there is a light, misty rain after a dry spell. This moisture mixes with road oil to create a slick surface.

Be prepared to handle a skid. If you skid, take your foot off the gas and turn the wheel in the direction you want the front of the car to go. Use a light touch, and keep your foot off the brake. For example, the back of your car is skidding to the right. That means the front of the car is heading to the left. To regain control and come out of the skid safely, you should turn the wheel gently to the right.

One last defensive driving technique for bad weather during the winter months—beware of icy patches. Remember—bridges, overpasses, and shady spots are most likely to freeze first and stay frozen longest.


Insurance products and services are offered through Markel Specialty Commercial, a business division of Markel Service Incorporated, policies written by one or more Markel insurance companies. Terms and conditions for coverage may vary by state.

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.