Poor weather conditions can have a major impact on road safety. In fact, 10% of all car accidents happen during the rain and 16% of all accidents happen on wet pavement. So, it is important that drivers learn how to drive in these dangerous conditions. There are many things that drivers need to know how to do in the rain to keep them safe.
Why is it Dangerous to Drive in the Rain?
Well, I am assuming that the answer here is a bit obvious – driving in the rain is dangerous because the roads are slicker when it rains.
When it rains, especially if it has not rained in some time, the oil residue from vehicles using the roads builds up. It becomes slippery when mixed with water.
In addition to that, too much rain can impair a driver’s visibility – and we all know how dangerous it can be when you have limited visibility on the road. It’s not just because of the rain, the precipitation may cause your windows to be foggy, too.
These two reasons why it is dangerous to drive in the rain can appear to be too simple, and therefore often taken for granted. But rainy weather can make any potentially dangerous situation even worse. It increases the probability of facing hazardous conditions.
Remember, wet roads reduce your tires’ traction. In worst-case scenarios, this can lead to your car sliding and you, the driver, losing control of the wheel. Even experienced drivers find it difficult to find their bearing after losing control of their car, and most often than not, this leads to crashes.
Rain-related crashes are often minor accidents. But minor accidents can cause traffic, and in some cases, can end up inciting other more severe accidents.
However, take note that it is not just the rain itself that creates these hazardous situations. Don’t blame it all on the weather. Your driving skills play an important factor as well.
How prepared are you to drive in the rain? Do you have the skills to drive in inclement weather? How is a timid driver different from an aggressive driver if both lack an understanding of how to navigate wet roads? Keep on reading to find out.
- Start with proper car maintenance before you drive in any poor weather conditions. Make sure the windshield wipers are in good working order and that your defrost works. Check your tire pressure and grip, make sure they are in safe working condition. Also check your headlights, taillights, brakelights, turning signals, and high beams. Rain reduces visibility so your best way to communicate with other drivers is with working lights.
- If you are in an area with a lot of rain, look into high-tech safety features when purchasing a car. Newer features like traction control, anti-lock brake systems, electronic stability control, anti-skid control, and lane-keeping assist can all be invaluable when driving in the rain. Do not use cruise control, it may be convenient but during the rain you need to have full control over your vehicle. Also if you can, invest in a rain repellent product and wash your windows with it to maintain visibility. If you drive a truck, install mud flaps to help other drivers.
- Before driving, check the weather conditions. If it a heavy rainstorm is predicted, try to drive accordingly. Make sure you take the safest route, have a plan if you have to pull over, and if possible, delay your trip until the weather conditions are better. Roads are especially dangerous immediately after rain because the oil on the road loosens from the water and causes slippery pavement. If you can avoid driving at this time.
- Be aware that brakes, especially drum brakes, do not work as well in the water. So make sure you understand how your brakes are inhibited, so that you can adjust accordingly when driving in the rain.
- Do not distracted drive. Stay off your cell phones, turn off the music, avoid talking to other people in the car, and do not eat, smoke, or apply makeup. Stay completely focused and alert during the rain. Make sure to keep both hands on the wheels at all times, be prepared to stop when necessary and always keep your eyes on the road.
Driving In The Rain
- Stay calm. It may be scary to drive in bad weather conditions, but getting stressed out will keep you from being completely focused. If you notice you are getting too stressed out, pull over and wait for the rain to stop.
- Turn on your headlights so that other drivers can see you and so you increase your own visibility.
- Turn on your defrost to prevent condensation from impeding your vision. Use your windshield wipers to keep your windshield clear. If necessary, use windshield washer fluid to remove any mud or road dirt that can smear with the rain.
- Keep a minimum of five car lengths between you and the car in front of you. If someone is tailgating you, do not speed up. Instead, let them pass you. Always give yourself adequate space to stop.
- Slow down. During rain, the road conditions are not stable, so it is recommended you drive below the posted speed limit. Also give yourself more time to stop when coming to an intersection.
- Watch for potholes, gutters, and ruts in the road where water can accumulate. If the water is rushing in the drains, try to drive in the left hand lane if possible.
- Do not drive into flooded streets. Cars were not designed to drive in water and you can get stuck or ruin your vehicle.
What To Do If You Hydroplane
The biggest risk to driving in the rain is hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is when your tires are driving on the surface of the water and no longer connecting with the pavement. It is incredibly easy to lose control when your car starts to hydroplane. You can tell when you are hydroplaning because the steering wheel will felt looser and lighter. Here are tips on how to handle when you hydroplane:
- Stay calm. If you panic you may react too quickly and sudden movements are the most dangerous thing you can do when hydroplaning.
- Keep your wheel straight. Try not to turn during hydroplaning, even if it is part of your route because you could spin out and cause an accident. If your steering wheel starts turning while hydroplaning, don’t react by immediately pulling it the other direction, stay loose and try to guide it back to straight.
- Do not brake suddenly or you will lose control of your vehicle. Instead, take your foot off the accelerator and then only if needed, slowly press the brake. Gauging how your car reacts to braking, reduce the amount of braking if you start to lose control.
- If you start to skid, just keep your eyes straight and try to direct your car straight. Do not follow the skid or try to turn the other direction. Instead of trying to stop the skid which is almost impossible, just try to control the skid.
Rainstorms and wet roads can be very dangerous for drivers. However, if you are prepared, you stay calm, and you know what to do when it rains you will stay safe. To learn more about driving in the rain, it is a great idea to take a Texas adult online drivers education course. In these courses you will learn what to do if heavy rain starts and other tips and techniques to reduce your risk.