Driving in the rain—no matter if it’s a sprinkle or a downpour—is one of the worst driving conditions we as drivers regularly encounter. In fact, if you’re going around 35 mph, it only takes 1/12th an inch of rain to hydroplane. We won’t always be able to avoid driving in the rain altogether, so it’s best to get in the know about the best practices for doing so safely.
Since rainy conditions like heavy downpours and slick roads are directly associated with higher accident rates, knowing the safety precautions can help you avoid a potential accident. Keep reading for some important tips to remember when driving in the rain.
If Possible, Wait Until the Weather Improves
If the weather conditions are making you uncomfortable, see if you can postpone your trip or commute. This way, you can wait until the weather improves, and you won’t have to add anxiety to your trip. If it’s raining so hard that you can’t see across the street, use your better judgment and wait to drive. Whatever you might be late to is far less important than your safety and well-being! There’s no reason to put yourself in potential danger if commuting in wet conditions is avoidable.
Not only should you go the designated speed limit when driving in wet weather conditions, you should also practice driving much slower than usual. Wet roads are dangerous because the rain creates incredibly slick conditions and on top of that, your vehicle’s reaction time is much slower in the rain. Driving slowly and cautiously is the best way to keep you and others safe. If other drivers want to go a bit faster—they can go around you!
Reduced speed is also critical to avoid hydroplaning in rainy weather. This is when your vehicle slides uncontrollably on the wet road. If this happens to you *do not slam on the brakes!* The best thing you can do is ease off the accelerator and continue driving steadily in the direction you need to go.
Watch Out For Standing Water
Hydroplaning can also occur when driving through standing water. To avoid hydroplaning all together, try to avoid driving in places where water has collected. If you’re driving along a three-lane highway and you notice large piles of water building up along the right lane, make sure you use one of the other, clearer lanes instead.
Ventilate Your Car
Rain causes humidity levels to increase, which can make your vehicle’s windows become foggy and nearly impossible to see out of. Most modern automobiles have built-in ventilation systems that include a function to reduce this fog that forms on the interior of your windows and windshield. If your car doesn’t have this type of mechanism, you can try to roll your windows down a bit to allow some ventilation. If conditions get too bad and you can’t see out of your windows, however, be sure to pull over somewhere safe.
When driving in the rain, it’s important to use your best judgment and be patient. Yes, the speed limit where you’re driving may be posted as 45, but if it’s pouring down rain, going that speed could cause a major accident. The same thing goes for keeping your distance. Many people drive at varying speeds in rainy weather depending on their comfort level, so you want to stay alert. You never know what the person in front of you is going to need to do. If they slam on their brakes or even spin out, you want to be a safe enough distance away that you can brake without sliding into the back of another vehicle or potentially get hit by a vehicle that has lost control.
Double Check Your Car’s Equipment
This is a huge one! Preferably before you have to drive in the rain, check up on your car’s equipment. Check your headlights, taillights, and windshield wipers to make sure everything works as it should. And don’t forget to check the tread of your vehicle’s tires, as balding tires can severely reduce traction on wet roadways. Traction is your best friend when it comes to driving safely in the rain, so think about getting some all-weather tires or relatively new tires with deep tread.
Drive Safer With DriverEdSafety
At DriverEdSafety, we work with students to develop effective defensive driving and behavioral patterns using the foundational concepts of targeting, visual reference points, zone control, and the intended path of travel. Check out our courses to get started.