Driving in the rain is something that we all experience from time to time, but are we always prepared and ready when we unexpectedly encounter rain or wet road conditions? Depending on where you live can play a significant factor in what you should know and do when you drive into an unexpected rainstorm. Understanding your climate's conditions is key to being prepared. Here are some key tips you should know when getting behind the wheel if rain is in your forecast.
1. One of the most obvious things you should do is avoid driving in a rainstorm, if possible or not necessary. If you can wait until bad weather passes, you could alleviate the chance of putting yourself and others in danger, especially if you are an inexperienced driver or nervous about driving in the rain.
2. Always be aware of your vehicle's safety equipment and condition. Tires and windshield wipers should always be in top-notch condition. Worn tires can cause your vehicle to hydroplane, causing you to lose complete control of your car until the tires reconnect to the road surface, which may be too late. Worn windshield wipers can impact your ability to see the road or other obstacles or even people, which could turn catastrophic. As obvious as these are, you should be aware of other key vehicle equipment factors, such as keeping your car tuned and ensuring your lights are working correctly. A poorly tuned vehicle could easily stall or die if driven through standing water, causing the ignition wires to get wet and short out.
3. Plan for a longer drive time and slow down when driving in rain. Speed limits are posted for normal driving conditions. Wet road conditions require slower driving speeds since your braking distance and traction are greatly reduced on wet roads. It's not only the rain you need to be concerned about, but the oil that rises to the surface when it rains since that adds to the slickness of the pavement.
4. Depending on the temperature of the inside of your car and the outside air, a cold rain can cause your windows to fog up very quickly. Use your defrosters to help clear the windows. Be prepared to adjust the inside temperature control to a cooler or warmer setting since this could cause your windows to fog up even more if you don't adjust the temperature correctly. The key is to try and match the ambient temperature of the outside air with the vehicle's inside air.
5. Try to avoid driving through standing water. Most likely, you will not be able to tell how deep the water is, and you don't want your car to die in the middle of a large puddle or possibly get engulfed in a current of water and get washed off the road. If you feel that you need to attempt to drive through standing water, go slow enough so that you can back out of it or turn around if you find that the water is getting too deep.
These are only a few important things you should be aware of when driving in the rain. Of course, there are many other defensive driving tips available that a good driver should know, such as how to handle a skid, braking on wet roads, gusty winds, and following to close. So be safe and drive smart. It may save your life.