As the seasons change, it's important to prepare for the resulting hazardous driving conditions. One of these is rainy weather. It may seem like an easy one to handle, but even the best drivers may experience difficulties driving in the rain. Follow these four tips to increase your safety while driving in wet weather.
1. Replace your tires
Before you hit the road, ensure your tires still have enough tread so they will have better traction on the slick roads. Use this simple trick to check the tread level:
- Insert a quarter upside down into the tread.
- If Washington's head is covered, your treads are at least 1/8 of an inch and usable. Treads that are 1/16 of an inch are not safe to use.
- If the top of Washington's head is exposed, it's time to replace the tires.
Whether you buy new tires or keep your current ones, check the tire pressure every month as well.
2. Drive slowly
You may be in a rush to get home and out of the inclement weather. Resist the desire to speed, and slow down significantly instead. Water on the roads reduces tire traction, making it harder to brake and easier for you to lose control of your vehicle.
Be patient with other drivers; they may be going slowly for safety. Instead of speeding up to pass them, decrease your speed and keep your distance to allow enough room for stopping.
3. Avoid driving through running water
Heavy rain can quickly lead to large puddles and rushing streams across the road. It can be impossible to tell how deep or strong they are. The safest thing to do is take an alternate route instead of driving through the water.
4. Learn what to do if you hydroplane
To hydroplane means to lose all contact with the road and ride on top of the water. If this happens, stop steering and gently release the gas pedal to transfer weight to the front so the tires can contact the road again. Note that you lose this effect if you use cruise control, so avoid it in rainy weather. If the tires still don't make contact, gently brake to add more weight. If you skid, steer in the direction you want to go and not in the same direction as you're skidding. Don't brake hard as this will increase your loss of control.
Sometimes following these safety tips won't be enough to prevent an accident. The weather may worsen or another driver may be reckless. If you get into an accident, contact an attorney to help you navigate insurance claims, especially if you're injured.