Driving in Rain Increases the Risk of an Accident
Rain and wet roads make it harder to keep traction. It takes longer to stop when the road is wet. Hard braking and turning can cause your car to skid.
Heavy rain, fog, and water spray can also make it more difficult to see.
Driving in rain contributes to more than a million accidents every year. Therefore, you should study the following tips very carefully. Some of them will show up as questions on your permit test. They will also help to keep you safe on the road, once you have your driver’s license.
1. Slow Down on Slippery Roads
Slow down as soon as the rain starts. Don’t wait until the rain pours down.
Roads are often most slippery when rain first mixes with road dirt and oil and forms a greasy film. This is especially true in summer.
In fall, you should watch for spots with wet leaves.
In winter, be extra careful when you approach bridges and overpasses. Shady spots, bridges, and overpasses may freeze before the rest of the road does.
2. Understand Hydroplaning and Know What to Do
Hydroplaning means that your tires are riding on water like water skis and have no contact with the road. Hydroplaning is caused by drivers driving too fast for road conditions.
Make no mistake, if your vehicle starts to hydroplane, you are driving too fast.
When there is water on the road, your tires can lose all contact with the road at 50 mph. Under-inflated, worn, or bald tires lose contact with the road at much lower speeds.
It can be a scary feeling when your tires lose contact with the road. What you do, don’t overreact. It is important that you keep calm and slowly step off the gas pedal.
Never hit the brakes or turn suddenly. On a slippery road, you are likely to lose control and skid.
3. Turn off Cruise Control and Avoid Distractions
Don’t use cruise control when driving on wet roads. Your car is harder to control and on a slippery surface you need to maintain as much control as possible.
Avoid driver distractions that could cause you to take your eyes off the road or your attention off the driving task. You should be aware of what is happening around your vehicle at all times.
4. Turn on Windshield Wipers
Rain on the windshield reduces your visibility. Always keep your windshield wipers in good condition and use them whenever it starts to rain.
5. Turn on Headlights
When driving in rain, headlights help you to see the road ahead and help others to see you. Turning on headlights in rain helps you stay safe. Even if you don’t think it is necessary to use headlights, turn them on as a courtesy to other drivers.
In general, state law requires you to use headlights whenever you can’t see the road ahead clearly. The law may also require you to use headlights when you turn on your wipers.
You should always use your low beam headlights in rain. Don’t turn on your high beams. The light from high beams can reflect from the rain and make it harder to see.
6. Increase Your Following Distance
As you slow down, you should also make more space between your vehicle and the one in front.
Your car takes longer to stop on a wet road, which means you need more space to stop safely. Many accidents happen on slippery roads, so be prepared to stop suddenly and within the distance you can see ahead.
7. Avoid Large Puddles
Don’t drive through large puddles.
If you drive through a large puddle, it can cause your brakes to become wet. Wet brakes don’t always work properly.
Should your brakes become wet, apply them lightly to dry them and until you feel them working normally again.
Large puddles may also be deeper than you think and can hide potholes.
8. Don’t Drive into a Flooded Road
Don’t drive into a flooded road or cross flooded washes. Water can stall your engine, hide potholes and damaged road surface. Flash floods can carry your vehicle off the road. 2 feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.
If you see a flooded roadway ahead, turn around and find another route to your destination. You may be charged for emergency response expenses if you or your vehicle needs to be removed from a flooded road.
If your car stalls in deep water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
9. Don’t Drive with Emergency Flashers Turned on
In some states, it is a widespread misunderstanding that you should turn on emergency flashers whenever you encounter heavy rain.
Emergency flashers should primarily be used when you have stopped because of an emergency and where it may be hard for other drivers to see you. Always use them if you have stopped closed to travel lanes.
Driving with emergency flashers on is illegal in several states – regardless of your reason for using them. But more importantly, other drivers may not expect to see hazard lights on a moving car and may mistake you for a stationary vehicle. Hazard lights also turn off your ability to use your turn signals as you normally would.
Even if the law in your state allow driving with hazard lights on, you should avoid this habit as much as possible. In hazardous weather conditions, it is better to turn off the road and wait until conditions improve.
Read more about when to use hazard lights.
10. Prepare for Bad Weather
Your tires are the only point of contact between your car and the road. The play an important role when driving in rain. Check tire pressure on a regular basis and always when tires are cold. Hot tires will show inaccurate readings.
Check the sidewalls of the tires for cracks or unusual bulges. Use a simple penny test to make sure all tires have a minimum tread depth of 2/32 of an inch. To perform well on wet roads, you should consider replacing your tires when they reach approximately 4/32 of an inch. (Read more about Safe Tread Depth.)
Check your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals regularly. Keep all lights clear of dirt.
The glass of windows and windshield must be kept clean inside and out. Mirrors must also be clean and properly adjusted.
Change your windshield wipers if they streak or fail to clear your windshield properly.
When driving in rain, you should also allow more time to get to your destination.
Question 1: During a rainfall, when are road surfaces usually most slippery?
- A) When it has been raining for more than an hour
- B) When it first starts to rain
- C) When it stops to rain
ANSWER: B. Many roads are most slippery when it first starts to rain. Rain mixes with road dirt and oil and forms a greasy film. When driving in rain, your tires can lose traction and your car can hydroplane.
Question 2: In cold, wet weather the roadways on bridges and overpasses:
- A) Do not freeze because they are made of concrete
- B) Freeze after the rest of the road does
- C) Freeze before the rest of the road does
ANSWER: C. Bridges and highway overpasses freeze before the rest of the road. This is because the ground does not insulate them.
Question 3: When driving in rain, you should turn on:
- A) Wipers and low beam headlights
- B) Wipers and high beam headlights
- C) Wipers and hazard lights
ANSWER: A. Turn on wipers and low beam headlights. Do not use high beam headlights or hazard lights.
Question 4: If you see a flooded roadway ahead, you should:
- A) Find an alternate route
- B) Stop and immediately abandon your car
- C) Grip the steering wheel firmly and keep your speed
ANSWER: A. If you see a flooded roadway ahead, turn around and find another route to your destination.
Question 5: What is the main reason for increasing your following distance when driving in rain?
- A) Rain on the windshield reduces your visibility
- B) Light from high beams can reflect from the rain
- C) Your car takes longer to stop
ANSWER: C. Your car takes longer to stop on a wet pavement.