Driving in the rain, especially at night, can pose some serious challenges. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a drizzle or a heavy downpour, rainy weather conditions can be one of the most difficult driving situations a driver may encounter. It also leads to higher accident rates.
Driving in the rain reduces the effectiveness of your headlights, causes poor visibility, and less traction.
I’ve been driving a truck around the country and I’ve seen countless road accidents. The worst ones always occurred in rainy weather.
You might as well stay at home when it rains. But of course, there are times when you need to get out there. So here are some of the things you should know to help you drive safely in rainy conditions.
Increase Your Visibility
Driving in rain is unavoidable. We all have to do it sometimes. Planning for those rainy days will keep you ready and prepared.
Listed below are some quick and easy things you can do to increase your visibility when the rain pours and you’re out on the road.
Replace Wipers Every 6 Months
It all starts at the windshield. A lot will depend on your exact location and climate, but I recommend that you replace your wipers twice per year or at an absolute minimum, every 12 months. I do it once in the fall, just before winter, then again in the spring.
For some reason, people seem to use their wiper blades long after they are worn out. They aren’t that expensive and virtually anyone can replace them.
Windshield wipers are your first line of defense for visibility! Get some nice blades, too. I prefer Rain-X wiper blades. It makes a world of difference.
Video Explanation Of How To Drive In The Rain
Use Water Repellant On The Windshield
Speaking of Rain-X, they also sell a product that you can wipe on your window. Most people are familiar with this product (or products like it). I apply Rain-X to my truck about once per month, sometimes twice.
You can find Rain-X at Walmart in the automotive section, at any automotive store, or online. If you aren’t familiar with Rain-X, basically, it causes the water to bead up on the windshield and fly right off.
Sometimes, you don’t even need to use your wipers! The catch is you need to keep up with it. If you don’t, it can start to smear and create a haze on your windshield. So about once per month, do a reapplication.
Wear Polarized Sunglasses
Yup, wearing polarized sunglasses will increase your visibility during rainy conditions. Obviously, you need to make a judgment call here and only wear them when it’s bright enough.
This trick will not work at night. But during the day, wearing polarized sunglasses will reduce glare coming from the water and allow you to see further. This is a little-known trick but is used by truckers all the time.
Check Your Lights
You should periodically check out all your lights, even if your car has a warning indicator on the dash. If you need to replace a headlight, just replace them both.
The other one is bound to go out soon anyway. You should always have spare lights in the car with you as well. Both headlights going out in the same night? It happens!
Improving Your Traction
People worry about traction in snow and ice, but when it comes to rain, nobody seems to care.
When rain falls, rainwater mixes with grime and oil on the road and this creates slick conditions that are perfect for skids. A bunch of wet leaves on the ground or an oil slick near an intersection might as well be ice! Be prepared for those invisible slick spots!
And always remember that the only way you can avoid these spots is to slow down. If you drive at a slower pace, you’ll have more traction as it allows your tire more tread to make contact with the road.
Roads Are The Most Slick Shortly After Rain Begins
Traction is almost always worse when the rain first begins to fall. Over time, oil, gas, and fuel will form a thin layer on the top of the roadway surface. This is especially true near intersections where vehicles are frequently stopped.
As the rain falls and mixes with that film, the roadway can become extremely slick in some areas, especially at stoplights and intersections. After a while, the rain will wash away the slick spots. But at first, it’s a nasty and slippery combination. These slick spots are the cause of thousands of accidents per year.
Watch The Road Surface
Keep a close eye on the road surface. Driving over any object can become very dangerous. What kind of object? How about leaves! Yes, regular ordinary leaves on the roadway become dangerous! The bottom side of the leaves form a slick film. This, in turn, creates a terrible traction situation.
Check for “dark puddles” on the roadway which may indicate oil or fuel is mixed in, creating a slick condition. Try to avoid any puddles, actually. I know, they are fun to drive through! But they could cause you to hydroplane, lose traction, and suddenly the puddle isn’t so much fun
What Is Hydroplaning?
When you “hydroplane” it means that your tires aren’t touching the roadway surface. This is one of the most dangerous aspects of driving in rain. You are actually skimming over the top of the water. This usually happens when people drive too fast over a water-covered roadway or have worn-out tires with little tread depth remaining. It’s quite a frightening experience. You can’t steer, stop, or do anything, really. In a sense, you are “water skiing” with your car. Not fun.
If you discover that you are hydroplaning, do not panic! Any sudden movements could cause you to spin out of control. Simply take your foot off the gas and allow the vehicle to coast. As you lose speed, the tires will make contact with the roadway surface again. If you can help it, while you’re hydroplaning, stay off the gas, brake, and keep the steering wheel as steady as possible.
Beware Of Black Ice
Most of you have probably heard the term “black ice” before, however, the ice is actually completely transparent. The reason it is called black ice is because blacktop surfaces tend to show through, giving the appearance that the roadway is simply wet.
Black ice will take the color of whatever surface it is covering, whether it is blacktop, concrete, brick, or any other type of surface.
Black ice is extremely dangerous because generally, moisture falls as rain. If the ground temperature is below freezing, the rain will instantly freeze upon contact.
This, in turn, creates ice that is not very visible. The roadway surfaces will look wet. Since drivers are driving through rain, this is expected and they may not think anything of the wet-looking road surface. To add to the danger, black ice is generally much slicker than any other type of ice.
This, of course, is an extremely dangerous situation. Black ice is responsible for many deaths and injuries each year as well as horrific multi-car pile-up crashes.
Dangers of Driving in the Rain
Every year, there are about six million car accidents. You’ll be surprised to know that over 20% of these accidents happen due to weather-related causes. To be more specific, these are accidents related to rain and wet pavement.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, an average of around 4,000 fatalities are caused by wet-pavement-related crashes, and there are 2,500 more due to rain-related crashes that have happened between 2007 and 2016.
Indeed, it can be scary and dangerous to drive in such rainy conditions. So if you don’t want to be part of these statistics, better take head of the aforementioned tips. Driving at safe speeds and keeping your eyes on the road is the least you can do to prevent collisions.