Rain is very common in many parts of the country this time of year. AAA cautions drivers that no weather affects road safety more than the rain, so we have some tips for driving in rainy and wet conditions.
According to 2016 data from the Federal Highway Administration, an estimated 1.26 million weather-related crashes occur on American roads every year. About 73% of those occur on wet pavement and 46% happen while it is raining.
Rain can limit visibility and wet roads also lead to poor traction and hydroplaning events. However, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, 94% of all collisions in the U.S. are attributed to driver error. Yes, the weather can be a factor in a crash, but there are still things you can do to reduce the likelihood of one.
Tips for Driving in Rainy and Wet Conditions
Statistics show that the odds of you being involved in a collision are greater in wet conditions. AAA recommends that drivers work extra hard to maximize their safety behind the wheel during the rainy spring months. You can do this with a two-pronged approach.
First, you need to get your car prepared.
- Tires - Traction is the key to making sure you can maintain control on wet road surfaces. So, you need to make sure your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread. To check your tires' tread, you can use a gauge from an auto parts store or the "penny test." This involves sticking a penny with the top of Lincoln's head facing down into a tread groove. If you can still see the space above his head on the penny, this means your tread is in bad shape and it's time to shop for new tires.
- Streak-Free Windshield Wipers - Make sure your wipers are in perfect working order to give your visibility a helping hand. If yours are old, have cracks or frays, or skip and/or leave streaks, it's time for new ones. AAA also recommends that you clean the inside of your windshield every so often.
- Brakes - You need to make sure your brakes are up to the task of navigating rainy conditions. If your brake pedal is very grabby or you hear a squealing or grinding when applying them, it's likely that your brakes need some maintenance.
- Lights - Check your car's headlights, taillights, brake lights, front and rear turn signals, emergency flashers, and parking lights too. Make sure they are working and don't forget to clean them once in a while either.
You also need to adjust your driving technique when facing adverse, rainy conditions.
- Reduce Speed and Increase Following Distance - When facing inclement weather, drivers need to practice caution and slow down. AAA also suggests that you try to drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you, and that you slow down sooner for stops at intersections and for turns. As for following distance, you're advised to keep a three to four second distance between you and the car in front of you at all times. You need to increase that amount when it's raining or the roads are wet.
- Don't Use Cruise Control - Avoid using cruise control in wet conditions because you risk losing control of your vehicle in the time it takes to disengage the system or hit the brakes.
- Avoid Driving Through Water - You shouldn’t drive through large puddles or standing water, even if it appears shallow enough to easily make it. Attempting to drive through water can cause serious problems to your engine, brakes, and electrical and exhaust systems. A good tip is to try to use the middle lane wherever possible, as flooding is less likely there.
The Bottom Line
You can ready yourself for wet driving conditions if you prepare your vehicle beforehand and practice caution when behind the wheel.
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