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Staying Safe on the Road: Tips for Driving in the Rain

Sometimes we forget: Driving in rainy weather is different than driving on a clear, dry day. Here are a few tips to help your rainy day drive go a bit smoother.

Spring of the year can be a rainy time for a lot of areas, and it is important that drivers acknowledge the difference between driving on a nice dry surface and one that is wet. Many a driver has found himself in an accident because he did not respect the danger that rain, even a small amount, brings. Traction is diminished, visibility is decreased, and the driver’s perception of oncoming traffic and other hazards may be reduced, as well. Here are a few tips for rainy day driving that may help keep you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road a little bit safer.

  • Allow more drive time. Wherever you may be heading, familiar or not, allow yourself a little more time to get there. Problems with the road may be encountered from the rain, and you just need to slow down a little when the road is wet and slick.
  • Defog your windows. Turn on the front and rear defrosters along with the A/C to keep your windows clear.
  • Be careful when braking. You’ll want to start braking earlier when it is raining, for your sake and for that of the driver behind you, and use a lighter touch than when on a dry surface. And, should you begin to hydroplane, don’t panic! Slowly let off the gas and steer straight until you have traction once again. You should avoid braking in a hydroplaning situation, but if you have to, use a light touch—just a tap should do.
  • Don’t forget your turn signals. This is, of course, important whatever the weather, but especially important in rainy weather. Give the driver behind you every advantage of knowing what you are doing when the weather is bad. Remember, if your vision and perception are lowered, so they are for the person following you, as well.
  • Watch for standing or running water. Water tends to run off to the sides of the road, so the middle is typically safer. But, water can puddle anywhere, so keep your eyes open—and do not ever try to drive through an large puddle or abundance of standing water. It may look shallow to you, but looks can be deceiving. Potholes, sinkholes, anything could be waiting for you under that water; don’t risk it. Same goes for running water: Don’t fall into the, “I think it will be alright,” trap. Go around on solid ground or find another route.
  • Nix the cruise control. You’ll need all of your senses in the game when the weather is bad, so don’t take a chance of not having enough time to react because you weren’t in total control of your car.
  • Always turn on your headlights with foggy or rainy weather. Even a sprinkle can decrease visibility, so turn on your low beams; high beams will give more reflection of water droplets, and will make your visibility worse.
  • Don’t crowd other drivers. You never want to follow too close, but in the rain, it can be worse for numerous reasons. The surface of the road is slicker, the visibility is worse, and the driver in front of you may not be practicing good rainy day driving habits like you will be. So, give them some room, for both of your sakes.
  • Watch for people and animals. When visibility is bad and we are focusing on just trying to keep ourselves safe on the road, we can neglect to keep an eye out for people crossing the street or walking along the side of the road. It may be raining cats and dogs, but there could still be someone out there walking—keep your eyes open for the dangers and obstacles around you, including people and even animals.
  • Maintain your vehicle. Any car is safer in any type of weather when it is well-maintained, including tires, brakes and windshield wipers. Seems obvious, but windshield wipers are one of those items that many drivers see as “non-essential”—until they flip them on and they start smearing and streaking up the windshield, making it more difficult to see in already impaired driving conditions. And, make sure you have a well-stocked emergency car care kit, just in case you do end up on the side of the road for some reason. Get tips for creating your own emergency car care kit here on Torque News.

And, if the rain is just too bad for driving, either do not go out in the first place or pull off to a safe place and wait for it to subside. There is no up-side to being stubborn about not admitting that the weather is too bad for you to navigate and never making it to where you are going.

We all have to get out and drive in the rain sometimes. Hopefully, these tips will make it a safer experience for you and your family.

Image: Carpictures CC


shirl (not verified)    March 17, 2014 - 11:01AM

so important! seems like no one pays attention, though...or at least, very few. they drive just like it is when dry. one thing I really HATE is the crowding, bumper to bumper! dry or wet or ice, I really like ''my space in front, and behind. if people just used courtesy, think of all the wrecks that could be avoided. thanks for this reminder :)