AUSTIN (KXAN) — Storms producing hail can damage cars and homes, as was the case Sunday in central Texas when some motorists were on the road when the storm hit.
If you’re driving through a hail storm, here’s a few tips for drivers to keep themselves, their passengers and others safe.
If you do need to drive during hail, drivers should slow down, pull over and stay clear of other vehicles, according to AAA Texas.
AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster said the average hail claim for AAA Texas was nearly $6,000 in 2021, and hail can be more damaging to your car if you’re driving at a higher speed.
If you pull over, drivers should avoid overpasses because they can become congested with other drivers seeking relief, leading to a traffic jam or accident. Wind also becomes more dangerous underneath a bridge, Armbruster said.
“When it comes to other drivers, it’s hard to see outside if the rain is coming down, so it can be hard to see other drivers,” Armbruster said. “If you’re all trying to pull up under an overpass it just creates a dangerous situation where you could have other other potential problems aside from hail.”
Overpasses are also unsafe during tornadoes or during high winds because they act as wind tunnels and flying debris can cause injuries or deaths, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Auto repair company Gerber Collision & Glass recommends turning on your low beam lights and reducing your speed. Drivers should be aware of the vehicles around them and keep three times the usual distance from other cars.
Then, drivers should safely get off the road and to a covered shelter like a parking garage, overpass or a gas station canopy. If you need to pull over on the shoulder of the road, the car should be completely out of traffic lanes, Gerber Collision said.
Insurance company Progressive recommends positioning your car so the hail hits the front of it because the windshield is reinforced, unlike other car windows.
Drivers and passengers should also protect themselves by lying on the floor or reclining the seat and positioning their bodies to shield their faces from glass, according to Progressive. This includes keeping their backs to the windows. Blankets and jackets can also be used as protection.
How else can you prepare for hail?
AAA has several recommendations for a car emergency kit, useful for daily driving and road trips.
Here’s what they suggest keeping in your vehicle:
- Cellphone and car charger in the glove compartment
- First-aid kit in the glove compartment
- Blanket in the luggage area
- Drinking water/snacks for everyone in the car including pets (some in glove compartment, the rest in the luggage area)
- Flashlight with extra fresh batteries
- Rags, paper towels or pre-moistened wipes
- Basic set of tools along with duct tape and car emergency warning devices such as road flares or reflectors (luggage area)
- Ice scraper and/or a snow brush
- Jumper cables or a jump pack
- Traction aid such as sand, salt or non-clumping cat litter
- Tarp, raincoat and gloves
These items should be replaced as depleted. AAA also has added winter weather emergency prep tips as we eventually head into cooler temperatures.