Driving in rainy, windy or snowy conditions can present serious challenges, even for the most seasoned and experienced drivers.
Here’s a list of things to do, not to do and remember when driving in heavy rain:
- If you’re uncomfortable driving in rainy weather, especially when rain is heavy with wind, you might want to reevaluate going out altogether. It’s not just you who may not be the best driver during these conditions, it’s everyone else out there who may be less certain than you.
- Wet weather driving requires gentle use of all the main controls such as steering, clutch, brake, and accelerator – This will hopefully lead to fewer errors and emergencies. Another thing to look out for is wet shoes while driving, you do not want your feet to slip off of the pedals.
- Keep your car or truck in good working condition. Change your wiper blades regularly (every six months to a year)). Worn out tires won’t give you the traction required to steer or stop on wet roads. Make sure all of the lights in your car work and replace any that are burned out.
- Now that they all work, turn your headlights on even in light rain, or in snowy, foggy or overcast conditions. In many states, it’s the law to turn your lights on when you use your windshield wipers. You can see better and other drivers can also see you.
- USE YOUR WINDSHIELD WIPERS. Most vehicles these days have wipers with variable speeds, so you can adjust them to match the amount of rain that’s falling. Keep the windshield clear of leaves or built-up snow. Also, if you know your wipers are not in the best condition, you need to consider getting a new set before it rains again.
- Use your defroster and air conditioner to keep windows clear. Rainy conditions mean that the humidity will be high. Running the air conditioner and defroster will keep your windshield clear on the inside and the outside.
- Don’t follow large trucks or busses closely. Splash and spray from these vehicles can have a serious effect on your vision. maintain a healthy following distance, and your windshield wipers on, when other traffic is in front of you. If you have to pass them, do so safely and efficiently.
- Never drive beyond the limits of your visibility. On rainy nights, it can quickly become very difficult to see. The glare of oncoming lights, in addition to the rain on your windshield, can cause temporary loss of visibility. In rainy conditions, it is hard to spot people and animals, and in most cases even harder to avoid them.
- SLOW DOWN! It’s not a race. It takes longer to stop in rain or snow. So slow down and get to where you’re going. People are so used to their normal driving patterns on certain roads that sometimes they forget the need to slow down when inclement weather is in the mix.
- Put more space between you and the car ahead of you. It is important to maintain proper following distance (three seconds) which needs to be increased during rainy and snowy weather!
- Avoid heavy or “panic” stops. Anticipate the need to stop at a signal or stop sign by taking your foot off the gas and letting the car slow itself down. Gradual stops are key in these situations.
- Avoid off-road driving if possible. Judging the depth of puddles can be difficult and you can easily become stuck, even in an SUV.
- Stay toward the middle lanes – water tends to collect in the outside lanes, making road conditions worse in those areas.
- Watch for standing water on the road. Driving through standing water can flood braking components that will cause your brakes to fail. In some cases, your engine will quit and you’ll not be able to re-start it. Water in the engine can be an expensive repair. Don’t drive through standing water if you can not see the ground through it. Try to drive around it or turn around and find another route.
- If you drive through standing water and find that you’ve lost control of your car due to hydroplaning, take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction that the front of your car needs to go. Don’t slam on your brakes or make sudden turns. Both of those actions can be disastrous.
Finally, DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH RUNNING WATER ACROSS A ROADWAY. It’s doesn’t take much water to wash away or move your car or truck into a stream. As little as six inches of water can float a car and you’ve lost control. It’s nearly impossible to judge how much water is running across a road, especially in low visibility conditions or at night. Remember: TURN AROUND – DON’T DROWN.