The University of Washington: Facilities Services

Seasonal Driving Recommendations

Before you start....


  • Check the weather forecast and postpone your trip if necessary.
    • Please contact Fleet Services if you will be cancelling your reservation as to not incur a no-show fee.
  • Make sure your car is well maintained:
    • Wipers in good condition.
    • Fluid levels full.
    • Tires properly inflated and worn tires replaced.
  • Do not drive when you are tired.


Summer Driving

According to the National Safety Council, more motor vehicle injuries and fatalities occur during summer than any other season. Leading causes include:


  • high speeds
  • impaired or careless driving
  • not using safety belts

In 1998 an estimated 42,500 people died and 2.3 million were injuried in motor vehicle crashes. Fatal crashes reached their highest level in August with 4,140 deaths.

The National Safety Council offers the following tips to keep summer trips safe and fun. This information is also available from the Fleet Services Rental Office.

  1. Drive at the speed limit. Speeding is a factor in about a third of all vehicle crash fatalities.
  2. Prepare your vehicle for the road. Clean headlights, taillights, signal lights, and windows once a week, if not more.
  3. If your vehicle breaks down on the highway, pull off the road as far as possible. Warn approaching traffic at once by setting flares or reflecting triangles near your vehicle and 100 feet behind it. Stay off the roadway and get passengers away from the vehicle.
  4. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE. Almost half of all fatal vehicle crashes involve alcohol. Open alcohol containers are illegal and not permitted in University vehicles.
  5. For longer trips, allow enough travel time for frequent breaks for rest, snacks, and exercise. Drowsiness can reduce reaction time almost as much as drinking. If you're too tired to drive, stop and rest. Danger signs of fatigue include eye strain, blurred vision, head dropping, yawning, swaying out of the lane, or an urge to close your eyes.
  6. Drive defensively. Be alert. If you notice that a car is straddling the center lines, weaving, making wide turns, stopping abruptly or responding slowly to traffic signals, the driver may be impaired. Avoid an impaired driver ahead by slowing down to increase the following distance. If the impaired driver is behind, turn right at the nearest corner. Notify the police after seeing a motorist who is driving suspiciously.
  7. Follow the rules of the road. Don't contest the "right of way" or try to race another car while trying to merge in to another lane. Be respectful of other motorists.

Winter Driving

The Fleet Services provides some equipment to assist in winter driving. This equipment includes tire chains and ice scrapers. The Fleet Services installs "all-season" tires on its vehicles for additional safety.

In addition to equipment provided by the Fleet Services, the following operating recommendations should be followed:


  • Reduce winter driving stress by leaving earlier and giving yourself more time.
  • Reduce risk of skidding by looking ahead and slowing even more for turns and stops.
  • Allow 3-5 times the normal braking distance to come to a full stop on snow or ice.
  • A.B.S. brakes reduce tire skid when braking, but on ice, snow, gravel, soft surfaces, etc., braking distances can be longer than with conventional brakes.
  • Listen to weather forecasts on radio and TV.

Rain Hazards

  • Stay out of puddles. They can hide potholes and flood your brakes.
    • If your brakes get flooded, dry them by driving with the brake pedal down until they start working again.
  • If spray from an oncoming vehicle blinds you, grip the wheel firmly, stay off the brake, and be ready to break when the view clears.

Slippery Roads (wet or icy)

  • Stay below posted speed limits.
  • To avoid hydroplaning on wet roads, try to drive in the tracks of the car in front of you.
  • Avoid braking heavily.
  • Watch for icy patches on bridges and in the shade.
  • If you skid, take your foot off the gas and turn in the direction you want the car to go. Do not use the brake.

Poor Visibility

  • Reduce your speed so you can stop in whatever distance you can see ahead.
    • Use your flashers if you are going slow.
    • Pull over if it is dangerous to drive.
  • Remember to use your wipers.
  • Use low-beams when visibility is a problem, both day and night.
  • Wear sunglasses when there is glare from snow.
  • If snow or ice builds up on your windshield, stop and clean it off.