For many, driving in the rain is a daunting task, and no wonder – rain not only reduces visibility, but also the amount of grip your car has on the road, increasing stopping distances. And with this year’s predicted strong El Niño season , the wet season will be worse and more dangerous than usual. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to driving safely in wet and rainy weather. If you find rain scary when you’re on the road, then following these key pointers will help you stay safe. And even if you’re confident in the rain, have a read through, and check you’re driving as safely as you could be.
Here are our driving tips for staying safe during this El Niño season:
Slow down, pay attention, and keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times!
Keep all distractions, such as cell phones or even the radio, off and away from you.
“Wipers on, lights on” – it’s the law!
Many states in the U.S., including California, require headlights when it’s raining, even in broad daylight. This will make it easier for you to see what is in front of you; thus, preventing any accidents.
Keep a minimum of a good five car length from the car in front of you.
You never know what other drivers are going to do or what could happen to you! If that feels too close or too far, a rule of thumb is 1 second of following distance per 10 mph.
Drive at or below the speed limit to the extent that you are comfortable with, and can see far enough in front of you to appropriately make driving decisions.
Be aware that the maximum speed at which you can drive is DIRECTLY related to your tires.
Make sure tires have sufficient tread and are properly inflated. Underinflated tires can lead to hydroplaning. Check tires and wipers. Many drivers in accidents say they couldn’t see because their wipers smeared their windshields on a rainy day.
Be aware of hydroplaning.
This is where your vehicle travels on top of the water and has NO or very little contact with the ground. Your traction is reduced significantly. To safely get out of a hydroplaning situation let off the gas and steer straight or slightly in the direction you must go. Do not make sudden motions and remain calm. Drive in the tire prints of cars ahead. When a car hydroplanes, it’s riding on a thin layer of water between the tires and road. The water in tire prints has already been displaced, so you get better traction.
Avoid flooded roads.
Never drive through standing or flowing water in a roadway if you can’t see the roadway beneath it – your car could be swept off the roadway. If water is deeper than the bottom of your doors or the bottom third of your wheels, turn around. It can take as little as 6 inches of water to cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Most vehicles will float if there’s 18 inches of water.
Turn on the defroster if the windshield begins to fog.
Air conditioned air (which does not contain as much moisture) will usually clear the inside of the windshield faster than non air conditioned.
Don’t brake while in a curve.
Brake before entering the curve. Braking in a curve can cause the wheels to lock up and the vehicle to skid.
Watch for splashing from potholes and pools of water that accumulate at clogged storm drain pipes and low areas of the pavement.
Highways also develop “ruts” where the heaviest traffic tracks, and you may be able to position your vehicle while remaining in your lane to avoid these.
Use a rain repellent product on side windows and mirrors to clear standing raindrops.
Apply a coat of rain repellent to your windshield to improve your visibility in the rain, especially at night. Rain repellent products, such as Aquapel, create a shield and causes the rain to bead up and slide off your windshield.
Beware of driving in the rain, especially at night.
Motorcycles or even other dark-colored cars can be camouflaged amongst glistening raindrops on side windows and mirrors. It’s best to have a light colored car that isn’t easily camouflaged in the night.
- Headlights are important for visibility, but more importantly so other drivers can see you on the road! It becomes difficult to judge where vehicles are if they are missing one headlight, even more so in reduced visibility situations!
- Keep your windshield clean on the inside and outside, so visibility is as clear as conditions allow.
- Drive as safely and calmly as you can.
- Try inducing skids in clear parking lots to practice so you know what to expect.
- Change your windshield wipers when they begin to streak or seem to lose their effectiveness. Even in dry climates where they are seldom used, the ultraviolet from sunshine breaks the rubber down, so never assume because you seldom use them they are not worn out.
- Stay calm.
- Keep your eyes on the road at all times.
- If you can’t see anything, look out your window and stop at any gas station until the rain has stopped.
- Don’t use cruise control in the rain. It can hinder your ability to safely control the vehicle if you hydroplane.
How to Drive Safely in the Rain | WikiHow