Driving in the rain can be dangerous. The slick streets, the deep puddles, and the glare of light bouncing off the water can all be elements that lead to accidents. In some cases, you should pull over and wait for the rain to slow. In others, improved technique and better attention will help you to avoid accidents.
Driving in the Rain Requires More Care
Each year, thousands of accidents occur due to the rain. Many of them are preventable. Many people do not realize the danger involved in driving on wet surfaces or understand the need to slow down and take more care. When the driving surface is wet, a film of water creates a slick condition for the tires, which can lead to hydroplaning. Hydroplaning happens when you car "floats" on the surface of the water, and the treads on your tires are unable to divert enough water away from the road surface. This loss of traction can make it more difficult for you to control your vehicle, especially when it comes to swerving around obstacles or making sudden stops.
Another problem with the rain is that it causes a loss of driver perception. When it's raining, you'll notice there is decreased visibility on the roadways. Nighttime driving in wet condition is even more problematic, since other drivers' headlight bounce off wet surfaces and cause glare.
Slowing down in the rain is one of the most important changes to make. In addition to this, drivers should realize the increased risk and take other precautions to protect themselves and other drivers on the road with them.
Give it Time
Allow more time for traveling. Leave sooner, and drive at a slower pace to avoid accidents. If you are not rushed to get to your destination, you are more likely to slow down. In addition, traffic is likely to be moving slower than normal. In some cases, heavy rain can lead to flooded roadways, requiring you to take an alternative route. Always allow more time when you need to drive on wet roads.
- Changing the way you drive can reduce accidents as well. Take more care in the movements you make on the road.
- Reduce distractions as much as possible. Turn down the radio. Put two hands on the wheel.
- Brake sooner but with less force. This increases the stopping distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you and also allows the person behind you to know you are slowing.
- Use turn signals and lights properly. These help other drivers understand your movements.
- Take turns and curves with reduced speed. Try to take these turns at speeds five to 10 miles per hour slower than you would in drier conditions.
- Avoid cruise control, since this reduces your ability to control the car if you hydroplane. In some instances, hydroplaning leads to acceleration of the vehicle.
- Do not drive through large puddles whenever you can avoid doing so. These lead to water getting into your engine compartment, which could damage electrical systems. It is also possible the puddle is hiding a pothole.
- Keep headlights on whenever you use windshield wiper blades, even in light rain. Avoid high beams, as this will allow too much light to reflect back at you. Use fog lights if the vehicle is equipped with them.
- Tap the brakes after going through a puddle of water. This helps dry the brakes off, making the brakes more effective the next time used.
- If you begin to hydroplane, do not brake suddenly or turn your wheel. This may lead to a spinout. Instead, release the gas slowly and then steer into the skid.
In some situations, you should not drive. Simply pull over and wait out the rain. Anytime you cannot see the vehicle in front of you or the rain is so heavy it otherwise obscures your view, pull over and put your flashers on.
Monitor Other Vehicles
Driving in the rain means being more vigilat about the road conditions and also staying aware of the drivers on the road with you. Track the vehicle in front of you, following in the same tracks that vehicle did. Keep at least two car lengths between you and that vehicle. Allow buses and trucks the right of way, and leave additional room for these extra large tires to move around you. Avoid being behind these vehicles, since the tires spray water toward at your windshield.