Rain is blamed for thousands of accidents yearly. Many of these accidents are preventable, but are caused by drivers who don’t realize that fair- and foul-weather driving are fundamentally different.
When the road is wet, the film of the water on the asphalt causes tires to lose traction. Less obvious is the fact that rain reduces driver perception — it’s harder to see through the rain — and also decreases visibility through its action on headlights, windshields and the road itself. While most people know to slow down in the rain, there are definitely other tips that will help keep you, and those who share the road with you, from becoming a statistic.
- Don’t use cruise control. If you hydroplane, there’s the chance your car could actually accelerate. Cruise control also allows drivers to be less vigilant and to take their foot away from the pedals — not a great idea when reaction time is so important.
- Turn on your headlights, even when there’s a light sprinkle. It helps you see the road, and more importantly, it helps other motorists see you. If your car is equipped with foglights, you may find it helpful to turn these on, as they throw a little extra light on the road while making your car easier to see.
- If it’s raining so hard that you can’t see the road or the car in front of you, pull over and wait it out.
- Brake earlier and with less force than you would normally. Not only does this increase the stopping distance between you and the car in front of you, it also lets the driver behind you know that you’re slowing down. Also, be more meticulous about using turn signals, so that other drivers know your intentions.
- Defog your windows. Rain will quickly cause your windshield to fog up. Switch on both front and rear defrosters and make sure the air conditioning is turned on. Most cars’ climate control systems will automatically engage the A/C when the windshield defrost function is selected.
- Allow for more travel time. You should plan to drive at a slower pace than normal when the roads are wet. Keep in mind that traffic is likely to be moving slower as well.
- If you start to hydroplane, don’t brake suddenly or turn the wheel, or you might spin into a skid. Release the gas pedal slowly and steer straight until the car regains traction. If you must brake, tap the brake pedal (unless you have antilock brakes, in which case you can put your foot down).
Taking a few extra precautions both before and during a drive in inclement weather, be it rain or snow will help prevent accidents and, therefore, save lives. So, remember to drive safely and buckle up