The rainy season is here. The National Weather Service is predicting another round of heavy rain, mountain snow, and strong winds over most of the western United States for the next few days. The rest of the nation is due for similar weather. Most of us would just like to stay home and curl up with a good book until it passes. However, the fact is people still have to be on the road during these dangerous conditions. Rain can have a significant impact on your driving. Lower visibility, reduced traction, and people who just plain forget how to drive in the rain, make rainy day driving much more dangerous. Most people don’t take it seriously enough. The fact is, more than half of flood related drownings are because of careless driving. So, take the time to learn, or re-learn, the basic of how to drive safely on wet and flooding roads. Safe driving lowers your accident rate, and can help you keep your cheap car insurance rates.
Before You Go
- There are plenty of things to do ahead of time when you know bad weather is coming. Doing these simple things could save you from being stranded on the road or in an accident.
- Check your tires and make sure there is plenty of tread left. Bald tires will significantly increase your chance of losing traction or hydroplaning
- Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition. Windshield wipers should be replace at least once a year, or if there are any signs of wear. If you can’t see, it’s hard to drive safely.
- If you haven’t done so recently, check on your car insurance and make sure everything is up to date, and the most current proof of insurance is in your car. Get 24/7 roadside assistance if you don’t already have it. There’s nothing more stressful than being stuck on the road during bad weather, so make sure you can get help wherever you are.
On The Road
- It may seem obvious, but still bears repeating. Slow down. Like, really slow down. Wet driving conditions create a higher chance of losing control and even hydroplane. Hydroplaning is when your front tires are separated from the road by a layer of water, and your car has no traction. If that happens, take your foot off the gas and steer straight. Don’t slam the breaks, but apply gentle pressure instead.
- Keep your lights on so that other drivers can see you.
- Stay in the middle lane if you can, and give other people plenty of room. Don’t follow behind large trucks or buses too closely. They have large tires that can spray a lot of water onto your windshield, reducing your visibility.
- Stay on maintained roads and avoid off-road driving. It is very easy to get stuck, and then end up stranded, on roads that are not properly maintained.
- Heavy rain and floods require even more caution. If possible, stay off the road completely. If you are already driving and the amount of water is overloading your wipers, then pull over in a safe area. Wait for a while and let the rain ease up.
- Never drive when you can’t see. Seems obvious, but sometimes people forget that night conditions, glare on your windshield and fatigue, can all be amplified by heavy rain.
- Never drive through moving water if you can’t see the bottom of the road through the water. It is very easy to misjudge how deep the water is and be swept away in the current.
- If you do have to drive through an area where the road is flooded, drive very slowly all the way through. Do not stop in the middle. When you have reached the other side, carefully test your breaks. Going slowly and braking lightly will help generate enough heat to dry them out. Make sure they are working properly before speeding up.
Learning how to drive safely in bad weather takes patience and extra caution. Give yourself more time to get where you are going and stay extra alert.