Driving in inclement weather can be dangerous, and road conditions and visibility can deteriorate quickly and unexpectedly. While snowy, icy conditions might be the first weather-related challenge to come to mind, driving in the rain has its own set of hazards, too. When it rains, motorists need to contend with wet pavement, slick conditions, and poor visibility. In order to overcome weather-related obstacles, you may want to consider these tips for driving in the rain.
Visibility and Stopping Time
The Federal Highway Administration says rain can reduce visibility, and wet pavement can make it harder to maneuver and stop your vehicle. In other words, you may need to slow down when you’re driving in the rain, to help ensure you maintain control of your car and can stop when you need to. It’s also a good idea to leave a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, so you will be able to stop in time if that vehicle brakes.
Also, make sure your headlights are turned on at all times when it’s raining. You not only want your field of vision to be clear and well-lit, but you want to make sure the other motorists on the highway can see your vehicle, as well.
In addition to reduced maneuverability and longer stop times, another wet pavement hazard is hydroplaning, which occurs when your tires lose contact with the road and ride on the water. Speed is one of the main factors that can cause hydroplaning, and another reason to decrease your speed when driving in the rain. You should also avoid slamming on the brakes when it is raining, which also could send your car into a skid.
Always make sure your tires are in good shape. Balding tires have less traction, which can contribute to hydroplaning. In a 2011 article, Consumer Reports said its researchers found that hydroplaning occurred at a speed of three to four miles per hour lower on worn tires than it did on new tires.
If you do begin to hydroplane on a wet roadway, various state drivers’ manuals suggest that you do the following:
- Take your foot off the accelerator.
- Do not hit the brake, as it may cause you to skid
- Avoid pushing the brake or the accelerator until your car regains traction.
Driving through standing water can be dangerous and problematic. The National Weather Service says two feet of water can sweep most vehicles away, but you can lose control of your car in as little as six inches of water. So, if you can tell that the water on a roadway or parking lot is too deep, or if you cannot gauge its depth, it’s safest to turn around and avoid driving through it.
It’s not only how you drive on wet roads that is important, but also how prepared you are for inclement weather conditions. As mentioned above, making sure your tire tread isn’t worn out so that your car can get good traction on wet roads is important. Here are a few tips to keep yourself prepared.
- Check the weather forecast before leaving home.
- Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination, in case you must drive more slowly because of rainy conditions.
- Check your wiper blades to ensure they are in good working order.
- Make sure your headlights are working, so you can see and be seen.
- Equip your car with an emergency safety kit.
Driving in rainy weather can be tricky. You can’t control the weather forecast, but you can be prepared and take precautions to drive safely when the pavement is slick and the visibility is low.
This guest post comes from the editors of The Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.