Tips for safe driving in the rain
Driving in heavy rain can be stressful, and sudden downpours can be just as dangerous as icy roads. But you don’t need to rearrange your day when the clouds turn grey. While heavy rainfall creates wet conditions, you can adjust your driving style to help safely navigate slippery roads. The following are handy tips to help get you through the rain.
You’ll have more time to react to different potential situations on the road, like other vehicles slipping or the sudden appearance of a giant puddle. Driving comfortably is the main thing to remember. Don’t put added stress on yourself by going faster than you want. Stay out of any passing lanes and take your time.
Beware of hydroplaning
Hydroplaning happens when your tires glide on top of a layer of water instead of gripping the road. If this happens, you could lose or significantly reduce your traction, which is no good. Be sure not to make any panicked or sudden movements with your vehicle if you experience hydroplaning. Just stay calm, take your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want to go. Check out our Hydroplaning: What It Means and How to Avoid It for more information.
Avoid the edges of the road
Most roads are designed slightly higher in the middle, letting water run down and off their sides. While this helps prevent water from building up in the middle of the road, it can make the sides of the road extra slippery during sudden downpours. So, remember to stick closer to the center of the road.
Check your brakes
Tap your brake pedal lightly to apply a little pressure after you drive through a large puddle. Doing so will help dry your brake rotors.
Brake earlier than usual and use less pressure
Braking earlier adds more stopping distance between you and the driver ahead of you, and it will warn the driver behind you sooner. Try to keep more than three seconds of space between you and the car in front of you, especially in bad weather.
Watch out for large puddles
Driving straight through large puddles can be problematic. It’s hard to gauge the depth of a puddle, and it could be hiding a pothole or other debris. Plus, you don’t want to risk splashing up a wave of water into your vehicle’s electrical system or stalling in the middle of the puddle.
Turn on your headlights
In heavy rain, your daytime running lights aren't enough. Make sure to turn on your full headlights to help cut through the rain. Why? Other motorists have a much better chance of seeing you. Don't get overzealous and use your high beams. They'll do more harm than good, possibly blinding other drivers. Plus, they can harm your vision as extra light bounces off the rain and into your eyes.
Keep your distance from tractor-trailers
Dealing with tractor-trailers can be a challenge in the rain, thanks to the amount of water their wheels can spray. Try to avoid passing them as much as possible. If you have to pass a tractor-trailer, make sure you do so with a steady speed, staying in control until you pass in front of it.
Know when to pull over
There might be times when the rain falls so hard it dramatically reduces visibility. If this happens, you might think to yourself, “Is this a good time to pull over?” The answer is yes. You should never drive in conditions where you can’t see in front of you. Find a safe spot to pull over and wait out the rain. Make sure you turn on your hazard lights so other vehicles can see you.
Pack an emergency kit
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use an emergency kit, but it’s always good to be prepared. When putting your emergency kit together, include the following items:
- Booster cables
- Small shovel
- Windshield wiper fluid
- Safety vest
- Rain poncho
- Thermal blanket
- Water bottles
- Non-perishable energy food
By taking the above steps, you can venture out into the rain with confidence and control. Remember: take your time and pull over if necessary. The rain will eventually pass, and you can continue driving as usual.