Tips for Safe Driving in the Rain

Safety Precautions in Rainy Weather

While driving through a light drizzle isn’t alarming, driving through heavy rain requires sharpened vigilance and an awareness of what to do in case of an emergency. Whether you drive a smaller car or a larger truck, water on the road can be dangerous in a variety of ways. Use this list of precautions to be taken in rainy weather to hone up on your skills and ensure that you’ll be able to counter wet conditions without incident.

Watch Where You Drive

On concrete, rain has nowhere to absorb into, and tends to collect in pools on the surface. If you’re driving in a multi-lane highway, stay toward the center lanes, as water will gravitate toward the outer lanes and collect in larger pools there. Similarly, the water will mix with leftover oil on highly-traveled roads, making them quite slick and easy to hydroplane on. If you see a large patch of water or oil in front of you, try to avoid it without endangering other drivers. If you’re driving on a dirt road, ensure that you have an appropriate vehicle to get through the mud that will form because of the rain. If you have a small car which is liable to get stuck, find an alternate route.

Slow It Down

Your car will not react as quickly on wet roads as you are probably used to, so never drive faster than conditions allow (that goes for ANY type of weather!). Rain causes reduced visibility and reduced traction, making it harder to see hazards in front of you and slower to react to any that you do encounter. Drive slower to allow yourself significant time and space to react to sudden slowdowns on the road, or obstacles in your path.

This is especially prevalent during high winds which can affect your car’s driving abilities and also throw objects in your way, such as tree branches or trash cans. By following the 3-Second Rule (leaving 3 seconds of space between yourself and the driver ahead of you), you’ll give yourself a slight advantage over Mother Nature. If conditions become too dangerous to continue to drive, pull off the road at the next safe location until the weather clears.

Avoid Moving Water

Regardless of the size of your vehicle, a torrent of moving water is much more powerful than a frame of steel. If you drive your car into moving water, you run the risk of being swept away. Even a puddle that comes up to your undercarriage is dangerous, as it can seriously damage your engine and electrical system.

If you become stuck in a pool of water too large to escape from, exit your vehicle immediately. Try to flag down a larger car to tow you out; if you have a manual transmission, it may be possible to drive your car out using your starter motor if you remove your spark plugs.

Be Prepared!

Your first and last line of defense is always preparation for any situation. Have an emergency kit with water, nonperishable foods, a flashlight, and blankets in your car. Keep your vehicle maintained and make sure your tires and wiper blades are in good condition. Your headlights, horn, brakes and acceleration should also be in tip-top shape. Failure from any of these components could make the difference between a safe drive through the rain and an avoidable emergency.

By following simple safety precautions in rainy weather (and any weather), you’ll be sure to keep yourself, your passengers, and other motorists as safe as possible.

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