Many drivers don’t realize that rain can be just as hazardous for driving as ice or snow. Because of this, sometimes drivers do not exercise as much caution as they should when driving in rainy conditions. The President of Optimus Risk Services recently provided the following spring driving tips to Pennsylvania Township News magazine in an effort to help drivers stay safe and avoid accidents:
- Be cautious when driving in rain. Engine oil and grease build-up on roads becomes very slippery when mixed with rain. This dangerous mixture looks no different than wet pavement, but is in fact, much more slippery. When driving in rain, always assume that the road will be slippery.
- Beware of shadows. In early spring, when the temperature is still fluctuating, areas of roadway that are habitually covered by shadows may be concealing ice that has not yet melted. These shaded areas are particularly prone to black ice, which is often dangerously mistaken for wet pavement. In early spring, it is important to remember that these winter weather hazards may not be completely gone yet.
- Allow yourself enough travel time. Hurried traveling leads to speeding, and speeding leads to accidents, especially in inclement weather. When the forecast is calling for rain, you should always give yourself extra time to travel from one place to the next.
- Be wary of puddles. It is hard to tell from a glance how deep a puddle will be, so your safest bet is to avoid them. Staying toward the center of the roadway rather than the edge will help you to avoid puddles since most roads have a crown in the middle that allows rain to run off the sides.
- Handle curves and corners carefully. Your vehicle is more likely to skid or spin out as you maneuver around curves and corners. To avoid this, you should apply your breaks before entering the turn, not while you’re in it.
- When possible, avoid using the brakes. If the road is wet, it is better to simply take your foot off the accelerator rather than apply your brakes.
- Know what to do in case of hydroplaning. Hydroplaning results from a layer of water coming between a vehicle’s wheels and the road surface. When hydroplaning occurs, the wheels lose traction which can lead to a vehicle spinning and sliding on the roadway. If this happens, remove your foot from the accelerator and steer your vehicle as straight as possible until your wheels regain traction. Do not apply the brakes unless absolutely necessary.
- Use common sense. When driving in rain, you should always increase the following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you and turn on your headlights, no matter how light the rain.
Almost a quarter of car accidents are weather-related, and a majority of weather-related accidents are a consequence of rain or wet pavement. Knowing how to handle your vehicle in inclement weather could save your life. If you follow these tips, you will be much better prepared to drive safely in potentially dangerous driving conditions.