How to Drive Safely in the Rain

by | Driving Safety

Driving in a rainy day is more dangerous than driving in a snowy one, perhaps because drivers usually fail to adjust their driving habits to wet, hazardous conditions, as well as they fail to respect the rain.

In fact, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 46 percent of weather-related crashes happened during rainfall, but just 17 percent while it was snowing or sleeting.

This article will mention lots of important things that you should do to make driving in the rain safer. All of these will be divided into three main parts, including (1) getting your car rain-ready before it rains, (2) driving appropriately for the raining conditions and (3) reacting to emergencies.

Part 1: Getting Your Car Rain-Ready

It is better for you to check your car before you go out because this helps you to get where you need to go safely. The inspection includes keeping your windows clean and clear,maintaining your lights and tires, and checking your windshield wipers. If you can make sure all is working well, you will feel safe when you driveunder the rains suddenly.

Keep your windows clean and clear

The key to safe driving at any timeis that you must be visible. When your visibility is reduced you will have difficulty in driving. To avoid unexpected incidents because of limited visibility, you should do the following:

  • Regularly make your windows clean, both inside and outside.
  • In case your windows are fogged up, you should turn the air conditioner on. Besides, you should also turn the rear defroster on and open car windows if needed.

Maintain your lights

You ought to bring your car to a mechanic to adjust headlights. This will ensure that you will see clearly the road ahead and help you not make other driver blind. To maintain your vehicle lights, you should:

  • Check frequently to ensure that all of the lights are in good working conditions..
  • Regularly clean light covers to protect your car’s lights from dust and dirt.

Maintain your tires

You will be in danger if you drive with bad tires. If your tires do not have proper traction, you can easily have accidents, especially in wet conditions.

Tires usually have treads about 10/32 of an inch, as the standard. It is suggested that when the tires’ tread is only 4/32, it is about time for you to have new car tires. Especially, you should never use tires with tread less than 2/32 of an inch.

Inspect your windshield wipers

You will be in trouble if you drive without windshield wipers. Thus, driving in the wet weather will be like swimming without goggles.

You can clean dirt on the rubber wiper blades by rubbing the surface with rubbing alcohol, but if you notice any cracks or lack of pieces you should buy a new set.

Make sure that the motor and linkage are working properly and you should get them inspected if you see what is broken.

Part 2: Driving Appropriately under the Raining Conditions

Apart from what the precipitation does to the road and your car, the rain makes you difficult to see what are ahead. Therefore, you have to drive properly according to the raining conditions. There are 10 tips you should consider for driving while it is raining.

Slow down

The most important thing you can do is to slow down. It is a tough concept in a non-stop world, but it is essential.

During any inclement weather or unfavorable driving conditions, your first reaction should always be to adjust your speed accordingly. Wet roads reduce your traction, and slowing down reduces the chances of you skidding out, and will give you more time to react to emergencies.

  • Wet roads can reduce your traction by about a third, so you should also reduce your speed by a third.
  • Even small amounts of water can make the road more slippery, because the water mixes with oils on the road, and this creates a greasy layer.
  • Driving too quickly on wet roads can lead to slipping, which means that your tires lose contact with the road. When a car faces with slippery conditions, you have very little control in terms of steering or braking.

Turn on your windshield wipers

It helps you clear water from the windshield very well and widen your view in raining. Along with keeping your windshield clean, you can also improve your visibility in wet conditions by ensuring that your wipers are up to the job, and by using the right washer fluid.

  • Replace your wipers every year to prevent them from cracking, breaking, or not sealing properly when you need them most.
  • Try a hydrophobic washer fluid that will cause water to bead up and drip off your windshield, rather than sticking to it and blocking your view.

Stay focused

When you’re behind the wheel, it is important to always pay attention to the road, other cars, and pedestrians. This is especially true in the rain, when you cannot see as well, and your ability to stop may be hindered by the slickness of the road. Stay focused by

  • Keeping your eyes on the road at all times
  • Paying attention to what drivers and pedestrians are doing around you.
  • Turning off the radio, and ignoring your cell phone and other electronic devices.
  • Ceasing any conversations you were having with passengers.
  • Not eating, reading, or putting on makeup while driving.

Turn your headlights on

Whenever visibility is poor or it rains, headlights are a good way to let other drivers know where you are. You ought to turn on your headlights immediately, regardless of whether it is day or night.  It is both helpful to other travelers and makes you safer.

Remember, you are not the only one affected by poor visibility. You may be able to see cars without their headlights on but others may not have vision or windshield wipers as good as yours.

Many states require headlights to be turned on when it is raining or when visibility is reduced to less than 500 feet. In some states, it is actually illegal to drive without headlights when it is raining.

There are two reasons why you should drive with your lights on in the rain:

  • First of all, your headlights will make it easier for other drivers to see your car.
  • Second, rain typically means cloudy skies, and turning your lights on will help you see the road better.

Drive with both hands on the wheel

You should always drive with your hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock on the steering wheel, because this gives you maximum control if you have to turn, swerve, or react quickly. It is especially important to have both hands on the wheel when driving conditions are subpar.

While traditional wisdom said to drive with your hands at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on the steering wheel, this increases the chances of injury from airbags in case of a collision.

Stay five seconds behind the car in front of you

You should always leave a three- to four-second gap between your car and the car in front of you, and you should increase this to at least five seconds when it is raining. Not only this does give you more time to stop or adjust if necessary, but it also prevents reduced visibility caused by the spray from other cars.

  • To determine how many seconds you are behind another car, make note of when that car passes a landmark (like a street sign) and then count how many seconds it takes before your car passes that same landmark.
  • Leaving space includes leaving an opening where you can escape quickly if necessary. To do this, make sure you always leave at least one open space beside or in front of you that you can move into.

Avoid slamming on the brakes

Slamming on the brakes can cause you to slide forward, and you won’t be able to control the car. Hitting the brakes too hard can also force water into your brakes, making them less effective.

  • Instead of braking, you can also slow yourself down by easing off the accelerator, and downshifting if you have a manual transmission.
  • Not being able to stop as quickly in the rain is another reason why it is so important to leave extra space between your car and the one in front of you.

Make a turn slowly

Turning too quickly on a wet road can cause your tires to slip, and this means you will not be able to control the car. Whenever you have a turn coming up, you should give signal early and start slowing down sooner than you would in good conditions.

Just like driving under normal conditions, you should reduce the speed of your turns by about a third when it is raining.

Don’t use cruise control

Cruise control is another factor that can lead to hydroplaning. The weight of the car shifts slightly when you ease on or off the accelerator, and this helps the tires maintain traction with the road. But with cruise control, because the speed of the car is constant, there is no weight shift, and the car can lose traction.

Pull over if necessary

Never be afraid to pull over to the side of the road if you don’t feel comfortable driving. If you can’t see the sides of the road, the cars in front of you, or your surroundings at a safe distance, pull over.

  • Other things that can reduce your visibility include the glare from other car lights and lightning.
  • You may also need to pull over if there’s too much water on the road, the road is too slick, or you simply don’t feel safe.
  • To pull over safely, turn on your signal, check your mirror and blind spots, pull over as far as possible to the side of the road, and turn on your four-way lights.

Part 3: Reacting to Emergencies

The more prepared you are for a sudden emergency, the better. How should you react if you encounter deep or moving water, hydroplane and start to skid? Below are necessary advice that you should do in each situation.

Turn around if you encounter deep or moving water

Driving through deep or moving water can be hazardous for a number of reasons, including that you could get stuck, stall out, damage the car or the electrical components, or be swept away.

  • Moving water is too deep if you cannot see the ground.
  • Do not proceed through deep water if it comes higher than the bottom of your door.
  • If you encounter these types of road flooding, turn around and find another route. In a case where the only route is blocked, pull over and wait out the flooding.

Be prepared to react if you are hydroplaning

Hydroplaning can occur when a vehicle is traveling too fast at speed as low as 35 miles (56 km) per hour in heavy rain conditions. It causes the vehicle’s tires to travel on a thin layer of water rather than grip the surface of the road.

When it happens, your car may not react when you turn the steering wheel, and your back end may feel loose. In the event that your car is in hydroplane condition:

  • Stay calm
  • Avoid turning the steering wheel
  • Ease your foot off the accelerator
  • Apply slow and gentle pressure to the brakes

Know what to do if you start to skid

Skidding on a wet road can be particularly frightening, but like any emergency situation, the key thing is to remain calm. Then, look where you want to go, ease your foot off the accelerator, and gently steer in the direction you want to travel. Avoid braking, and never slam on the brakes. To prevent skidding, always brake before entering a turn or curve, then let your foot off the brake before the turn.

Conclusion

Above are some helpful tips for you to drive in the rain safely. Keep in mind that to get where you need to go safely when it is raining, it is best to plan ahead and adjust your habits behind the wheel. Being conscious of driving in the rain and practicing safe driving habits can help you prevent personal injury or a medical emergency.

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