When the weather turns from sunny and dry to rainy and wet, drivers need to remember that driving in wet road conditions require changing your driving techniques to stay safe.
Here are some tips for driving in wet road conditions so you get where you need to go and don’t end up in a ditch or worse.
- Turn on your windshield wipers
Even if its just a little drizzle, it’s important that you can see clearly. Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is at least half-full. Change those windshield wipers at least once a year or more if they begin to leave streaks on the windshield.
- Turn on your headlights
This is as much so that other drivers can see you as for you to be able to see the road if it starts raining hard.
- SLOW DOWN!
Wet roads reduce your tires’ ability to grip the road. Slowing down reduces the chance of your skidding out into the car in front or beside you. Even a small amount of water on the road can mix with dirt and road grease to make the surface slick and hazardous. Driving too fast on wet roads can lead to hydroplaning – when tires float on a thin layer of water. When this happens, you have nearly no control over steering or braking.
Here’s more on how to avoid hydroplaning on wet roads.
- Stay focused – Pay Attention!
While it’s always important to pay attention when you’re driving, it’s especially important during rainy conditions. Put down your phone and turn off the radio. Keep your eyes on the road at all times. Don’t eat, smoke, read, put on makeup, etc. Pay attention to what other drivers and pedestrians around you.
- Drive with both hands on the steering wheel
Keep your hands at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock position on the steering wheel. This gives you maximum control is you have to turn, swerve or react to another driver.
- Stay five seconds behind the car in front of you
You should always leave a gap between you and the car in front of you. During wet conditions, this space should increase. Make note of when the car in front of you passes a landmark – like a street sign – and count how many seconds it takes before your car reaches that same point. This space ensures that you can stop quickly or avoid the driver in front of you if you have to make a sudden turn.
- Avoid slamming on the brakes
Hitting the brakes too hard can cause your car to hydroplane, lose traction and spin out-of-control. Slow down gradually, if possible. Ease off the accelerator or downshift if you have a manual transmission.
- Take turns/change lanes slowly
Turning too fast on a wet road can cause your tires to lose their grip and spin out of control. When you have a turn coming up, slow down, use your turn sign and turn carefully.
- Don’t use cruise control
During wet conditions, the cruise control maintains a constant speed for the car or truck. Without cruise control, you will ease on and off the accelerator, which helps the tires maintain contact with the road.
- Pull off the road if it gets to be too much
Even the most experienced drivers don’t like to drive in heavy, pouring rain. If you can’t focus on driving or you’re getting stressed out, pull off at an exit or a safe place on the road. Turn on your signal, check your mirrors and pull over as far as you can safely. Turn on your four-way emergency lights and let the rain pass.
- DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH DEEP OR MOVING WATER!
The better advice is DON’T drive through any standing water on roads or highways. Your car could stall or lose the ability to brake, damage the car and its electrical components or even be swept away in moving stormwater. Remember: Turn around – Don’t drown!
Know what to do if you start to skid or hydroplane
- Be prepared to react quickly if your car begins to hydroplane
Your steering may feel “squishy” and the back end of your car may begin to drift to one side. Stay calm. Avoid turning the steering wheel. Ease your foot off the accelerator and apply slow, gentle pressure to the brakes.
- Know how to react to a skid
The key to getting out a skid is to remain calm, ease off the accelerator and steer in the direction of the skid. Avoid braking and NEVER slam on the brakes. To prevent skidding, always brake before entering a turn or curve and then, when you’ve slowed down, take your foot off the brake before the turn.
Before you start driving in rain, ice or snow
Remember that not everyone is able to drive in adverse conditions. If you’re not comfortable driving in rain, ice or snow, consider taking a taxi, public transportation, Uber or Lyft. Or postpone the trip. There’s no reason to put yourself in danger if driving in hazardous conditions isn’t really necessary.
Every month, you should make sure your car’s equipment is in good working order. Check your headlights, tail lights and windshield wipers to make sure they’ll work efficiently. Top off you windshield wiper fluid. Check your tired to make sure they have plenty of tread to grip the road. Worn or balding tires can reduce traction and cause the tires to lose their grip on the road, throwing the car into a skid or worse.