Even on a crystal clear day with perfect road conditions, driving can be a hazardous activity. Wet weather driving, however, can become downright dangerous. Luckily, there are several things you can do to stay safe when driving in the rain. Here are a few tips and techniques that could even save your life.
1. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
If your commute takes you a set amount of time on a normal day, you should prepare for it to take twice as long when the weather is bad. Not only are you likely to need to drive more slowly in order to stay safe, but traffic may also be much heavier than normal. Various factors like accidents and flash flooding on the road tend to slow the flow of traffic, and you may encounter a backup without much notice. Rather than fretting about being late to your destination (which is likely to make you drive more recklessly), you should plan in advance and give yourself plenty of extra time to get where you are going. If you end up being early, you can always kill time by reading in your car or grabbing a coffee, but it’s better to be early than late.
2. Pay Attention
You should always devote as much of your attention as possible to the actual act of driving whenever you are behind the wheel, but it’s not uncommon for motorists to find that their minds wander as they go into autopilot. Simply put, you can’t afford to stop paying attention when you drive in wet weather. Conditions can change in an instant, and you need to be fully alert. While texting, eating, or putting on makeup while driving is always dangerous, these distractions can become even more dangerous in wet weather.
3. Use Caution After Dry Spells
When rain starts to fall in the middle of a drought, it can often feel like a godsend. Unfortunately, roads are at their most dangerous after a long dry spell, and you need to use extra caution when driving them. Oil, grease, and other pollutants tend to build up during a period without rain, and when they mix with rainwater, the result is a very slick road. Your car isn’t able to respond as quickly when the roads are slippery, so you need to be careful not to take tight turns or slam on the brakes.
4. Stay Away from Cruise Control During Wet Weather Driving
While cruise control is a great tool to use when the roads are clear, it can actually be very dangerous in wet weather. If you hit a puddle that causes you to hydroplane while your car is in cruise control, the feature might actually cause your car to accelerate in an attempt to maintain a constant speed–exactly the opposite of what you should be doing.
5. Know How to Use Your Brakes Property
Many accidents occur during rainstorms because drivers don’t understand how to make the best use of their brakes. In general, it’s important to remember that your car is going to take longer to stop than usual if the roads have decreased friction from being wet. You should try to never put yourself in a position in which you have to slam on the brakes while it’s raining. Instead, begin braking much earlier than you usually would, and apply light pressure on the pedal whenever possible. If you start to hydroplane, your reaction needs to differ based on whether your car has antilock brakes or not. If so, you should step on the pedal as hard as you can. If not, however, you need to pump the brakes lightly so that you don’t start to skid.
6. Avoid Hazards When Possible
The longer you live in the same city or neighborhood, the better prepared you will be for wet weather driving. You are likely to figure out which roads tend to be more prone to flooding and which ones are usually safer. You also should be able to see ahead of you and notice hazards that might be blocking your path. Rather than putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation, try taking an alternate route. It might be a little inconvenient, but it should be much safer.
7. Pull Over if Necessary
At some point, you might find that the weather is just too bad to allow you to keep driving safely. In this case, it’s almost always wise to pull off to the side of the road and wait for conditions to improve. Make sure to keep your headlights on and turn on your hazard lights so passing cars can see you. Even if you end up being late to your destination, it’s much more important to stay alive than it is to be on time.
Wet weather driving can be scary – especially if you aren’t used to it–but it’s relatively easy to stay safe. Simply heed these tips, and you will have no problem getting where you need to go.
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