Dealing with wildfires is a matter of course when living in certain parts of California. These events can lead to catastrophic challenges for residents. Whether you’re told to evacuate or have to drive around to live your daily life, you should know about how to drive through wildfire smoke safely.
Driving through wildfire smoke can pose unique challenges and potential hazards. For example, self-driving cars can falter in wildfire smoke, so you should drive your vehicle manually. If you’re a California driver facing these conditions, consider the following additional tips to better ensure your safety.
Stay up to date
Keep updated on the latest news about the fires. Check resources like CalFire and local news outlets to know the locations of active fires and to avoid areas with mandatory evacuation orders. If wildfires are close to your area, be ready to evacuate.
Only drive when necessary
If possible, limit your driving if there’s heavy smoke in the air. Smoke can reduce visibility and negatively affect air quality, making driving conditions hazardous. It’s more challenging to see other cars in heavy smoke. Increase the distance between you and the vehicle ahead to give yourself more time to react if they brake suddenly.
Remain visible and vigilant
Even during the day, turn on your headlights. Smoke can darken the sky and decrease visibility. Avoid using high beams, as the light may reflect off the smoke and make visibility worse. Wildfires can force wildlife onto roads. Be alert for animals, particularly during the dawn and dusk when they are most active. Also, be on the lookout for fire trucks, police cars and other emergency vehicles.
Driving safely through wildfire smoke is a serious matter. If you’re involved in an accident due to decreased visibility or other drivers’ negligence, you’ll want to seek legal guidance to better understand your legal options.