Tips for Driving Safely in the Rain

Driving in any type of difficult weather is never a fun experience. This is especially true for driving in heavy rain when lack of visibility can leave even the most confident driver stressed. In fact, driving on rainy days is more dangerous than driving on snowy days. Here are some tips for staying safe even when driving in the rain.

Drive Slowly

Speed limits are the maximum speed that cars may drive on days with clear weather.  While you can drive the speed limit on rainy days, it is best to slow down. Driving too fast on wet pavement can cause your tires to lose traction. When roadways are wet, friction is reduced between the tire and the road. You may lose up to a third of your traction in wet weather, so it is suggested to reduce your speed by about a third when it is wet or rainy.

Back Off

In dry conditions, there is an old rule to stay 3-4 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. To count this, watch the vehicle in front of you as it passes a fixed marker, then count how long it takes you to reach that marker and adjust your position accordingly. In rainy conditions, it is best to stay about 5 seconds behind the car in front of you. For each additional driving challenge, add a second. If it is rainy and you are driving at night, stay about 6 seconds behind.

Use Your Headlights

Because of how significantly rain can decrease visibility, it is very important to make yourself easy to see to other drivers. In many states, it is legally required to turn on your headlights anytime you are using your windshield wipers. Even if it is in the middle of the day, turn on your headlights if it is raining. Turning on your lights will alert other drivers to your presence and help you see the road better.

Anticipate Strong Winds

Rainy weather often brings sudden, strong gusts of wind. While wind may seem like a minor risk, it actually deserves special consideration from drivers. Strong winds can occur anywhere but are more common in wide open spaces. This includes highway overpasses, tunnels, and “road cuts” through mountainous areas. Take special care when driving through areas prone to strong wind and keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle. Also, be aware of large vehicles because they are more susceptible to high winds and drivers may have difficulty staying in their lanes.

Know About Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning occurs when you drive fast over an area where water is deeper than anticipated. Your tires end up getting more traction on the water than on the road, making it more difficult for you to control your vehicle. If you start to hydroplane, release the accelerator slowly and steer the wheel straight until you have control of the car again. Slamming on the brakes will further upset your vehicle’s balance and make it harder for you to regain control. Another tip is to keep cruise control off when it’s raining. Cruise control works to maintain a constant speed, so it greatly increases the chances of hydroplaning since it’s not smart enough to detect when there’s water on the road.

Auto Clinic of Stuart knows one of the most important ways to drive safely in the rain is to have your vehicle working at it’s best.  If you notice any problems with your vehicle, bring it to the Auto Clinic of Stuart and we will help you safely get back on the road!