Safety Tips for Driving in the Rain
Driving in the rain can be a huge hassle. High precipitation can make driving significantly more challenging – things like slick roads, heavy traffic, and lower visibility can greatly increase your chances of getting into an accident. Here at Lakeland Hyundai, we know heavy rain is an unavoidable part of living in Florida. However, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer! Just follow these key safety tips to keep yourself and your loved ones safe on the road when weather conditions get tough.
Don’t go out until the weather gets better
This one is a little obvious, but wait until the rain clears! If it is at all possible to put off that trip to the grocery store or visit to the mall, make sure that you do so. The absolute best way to avoid getting into trouble in rainy conditions is to stay off the roads completely. If you can wait, why not? However, we know that’s not always possible. You can’t just skip work or miss that important appointment for some rainy weather. For times when waiting it out is just not possible, here are some tips.
Take it slow
Without a doubt, maintaining a slow speed is the best way to stay safe when driving in rainy weather. When there’s water on the roads, the oil in the pavement can start to seep out, making conditions much more slicker and slippery than you are used to. Sitting water on roadways can also cause your vehicle to hydroplane out of control, especially if you are driving too fast. To lower your chances of getting into a collision, make sure that you slow down when it’s raining. Go at the speed that you feel comfortable, even if that is below the posted speed limit. Speed limits were developed with ideal, dry driving conditions in mind. If your area is experiencing heavy rain, you should expect to be driving well below the limit. You should also make sure that you leave at least five seconds of following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. That way, when you try to brake on more slippery roads, you won’t accidentally rearend the car in front of you in case it unexpectedly takes you a bit longer to stop.
Unfortunately, hydroplaning can happen even if you take all of the proper precautions. If you find yourself losing control of your vehicle, immediately take your foot off of the accelerator. Although you will instinctively want to do the opposite, make sure that you turn the wheel in the same direction that your car is hydroplaning. This will get your tires lined up with the direction that your car is traveling, helping you to get control back. No matter what you do, do not slam on the brakes. This will only make it harder for you to control the car. Slowly and gently pump your brakes while steering into the skid – this will get you back to safety.
Keep cruise control off
No matter what, you should never be using cruise control while it is raining. First of all, you should be paying close attention to the road and be fully engaged in what you are doing – unlikely the case if cruise control is on. Secondly, if you start to hydroplane while your vehicle has cruise control engaged, the automatic acceleration will speed up the car, potentially making the situation much worse. When hydroplaning, you want to quickly and efficiently reduce speed. The few seconds it takes for the cruise control to disengage could be the difference between keeping you safe and getting into an accident. It’s not worth the risk – make sure to keep cruise control off when driving in wet conditions.
Make sure to use your windshield wipers
You’d be surprised how many people forget to turn their windshield wipers on when it’s rainy, especially in lighter rain. Nearly all vehicles have multi-speed windshield wipers to adjust to the amount of precipitation that you are experiencing. You will also want to make sure to regularly inspect your wiper blades to ensure that they don’t get too worn down – especially if you live somewhere that gets a lot of precipitation and you’re using them often. Making sure that you have a clear windshield is necessary for maintaining good visibility when driving in the rain.
Turn on all car lights
Your car lights should always be on in inclement weather. Having your lights on helps you stay visible to others on the road. You should make sure that you have both your headlights and taillights on while driving in the rain. This keeps your vehicle visible to drivers both in front of and behind you, and demarcates all four corners of your car. By using your headlights, you are also making it easier for you to see in front of you. However, make sure that you aren’t using the brights. These highly-reflective lights can make it harder for oncoming traffic to see, especially in rainy conditions. This can pose additional safety hazards.
Don’t brake too hard
In wet conditions, always try to gently apply the brakes. Braking too hard can cause your vehicle to slip on slick roads. This is also why it is so important to maintain a longer-than-usual following distance from the car in front of you. You should aim to stay at least five seconds behind in case your vehicle starts to skid, and start braking sooner and more gradually. This will help you prevent a collision.
Avoid flooded roads
If you notice that a road is flooded, you should never try and drive through it. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t see the markings on the road, that means that the water is too deep to drive across. Experts say that it takes as little as 3 inches of water to lose control of your vehicle. When a road is flooded, you are more likely to hydroplane. In serious situations, your car may even get stuck or start to float away. When there is flooding in your area, you should always try and take alternate routes at higher ground. Even if it takes you a little longer to get where you are going, you will still get there sooner than if your car got stuck in a flood!
Next time it’s raining, don’t be caught making silly mistakes that can get you into an accident. If at all possible, always try and wait out the storm. But if you absolutely have to be on the road, make sure that you follow these key safety tips to avoid getting into trouble.