10 Driver Safety Tips for Driving in the Rain

10 Driver Safety Tips for Driving in the Rain

Living in Maryland, the chances are good that you'll encounter some rainy weather while traversing the roads. Heavy rain can be just as dangerous as snow flurries, sleet and hail. Wet roads account for about 1.2 million car accidents every year. Below, we outline 10 driver safety tips for driving in the rain.

1. Make sure that your windshield wipers work as designed. If your vehicle's windshield wipers leave streaks on the glass or take more than one swipe to clean the glass, replace them. New wipers are a small expense that have the potential to save you plenty of money in the long run. They'll help to create a clear line of sight so that you can avoid collisions.

2. As soon as it starts to rain, turn on your vehicle's headlights. Even if it is merely misty, your vision will benefit from the illumination of headlights. They'll help you see what's ahead of you and they'll help other drivers see you.

3. Check your tires for inflation levels and the proper tread depth. A vehicle with aged tires that aren't inflated to the proper level will struggle to maintain traction on roads that are wet. To verify that your tires have ample tread depth, insert an upside down quarter into the tire groove. If you can see above Washington's head, start shopping for new tires.

4. Brake sooner and lighter than usual. Simply put, be a bit paranoid when driving in the rain. The wet roads will require that you apply your brakes sooner in order to stop at a safe distance behind the vehicle or intersection ahead of you. Applying the brakes earlier than normal also lets the driver behind you know that you're slowing down.

5. Don't use cruise control. While it is tempting to use cruise control during long car trips on the highway, don't give in to temptation. When the cruise control is on, it'll be difficult to quickly decrease the car's speed. If you drive without cruise control on, you'll be able to quickly decelerate by lifting your foot off of the gas pedal and pressing the brake. You'll also be more likely to focus on the road when cruise control is off.

6. If your car starts to skid on the wet pavement, don't panic. Stay calm, slowly take your foot off of the gas. If you don't have anti-lock brakes on the vehicle, don't use the brakes during a skid. If your car has ABS, brake firmly as you steer into the skid.

7. Slow down, especially at the onset of rain. When the rain starts to fall, it causes the oils and grease that have dripped out of vehicles into the road to rise back to the surface. This makes for especially slick driving conditions. So, be extra careful when driving during the first 5 to 10 minutes of rainfall. You should continue to drive at a slow speed after rain has fallen for an extensive period in order to avoid hydroplaning. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway.

8. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination. If there is rain in the forecast, leave for your destination much earlier than you normally would. Rain will cause drivers to move more slowly and it might even cause accidents that can block roadways. Budget in a solid 10 – 30 minutes of extra time to accommodate the slower pace of traffic. This way, you won't be forced to take chances and drive at a fast speed just to make it to your destination on time.

9. Avoid deep puddles. You never know if a puddle with significant depth will cause damage to your vehicle or prevent you from moving forward. If you can't find a way around a puddle, go slowly through it. Deep water can cause serious damage to a modern car's electrical system.

10. Stay in the middle of your lane. If you are on a multi-lane highway or road, try to remain in the middle lane. Water pools at the outside of lanes, so avoid those areas when it is raining.


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