April is famous for it's rain showers, but are you driving safely in the rain? Driving through precipitation is much different and more dangerous than typical driving. Not only do you have to be more alert, you also have to take special precautions that you normally wouldn't. Keep in mind that following these suggestions could save your life or the lives of others.
Make Sure Your Car is Ready- There are certain parts of your car that you want to be sure are working properly before you head out in the rain. First and foremost, your windshield wipers. Without these your vision is extremely limited in the rain so if you need new ones don't wait! You also want to make sure your tires are in good shape. Once tires age and the grooves in them get worn down it is harder for them to keep their traction on the road when it is raining, which makes it easier to hydroplane. Lastly, check and make sure that all of your lights are working, you will be needing them in the rain to improve visibility.
Reduce Your Speed- One of the biggest dangers of driving in the rain is the risk that your car will hydroplane. This is when the combination of high speed and rain results in the tires lifting off of the ground and skidding across the water. You can hydroplane at 40 MPH or higher which is why it is so important to reduce your speed, especially if you are on the highway. If you do start to hydroplane, don't slam on the break or jerk the wheel, which could cause you to spin out, instead steer straight and take your foot off the gas until car regains traction and you have control once again.
Keep Your Distance- You know that rule that no one follows that tells you to keep the length of 3 cars between yourself and the car in front of you? Driving in the rain is one of the times that you want to abide this tip since it takes longer to stop. You don't want to end up rear ending the car in front of you because you were following too closely and your brakes failed or reacted slower than usual in the rain. Be sure to keep away from trucks as well, their large tires spray a lot of water behind them that can limit visibility even with the windshield wipers on.
Avoid Puddles- Steer clear of big puddles on the road. If possible, stay towards the middle of the road, most roads tend to rise in the middle which causes water to runoff to the sides, increasing the risk for a giant puddle. Driving through them can cause a lot of damage underneath your car and make it dangerous or impossible to keep driving. If water gets inside your car's engine compartment, it could severely damage the car's internal electric system. This water can potentially soak or ruin the brakes as well. If there's no way for you to avoid a puddle on the road, test your brakes by gently tapping them to make sure they are working once you are out of the puddle. If they are not working, continue to tap the brake. This can help if your brakes are damp, it may create enough heat to dry them out so you can keep driving.
Always Turn On Headlights- Whether it is raining, snowing, or just foggy, it's always a good idea to turn on your headlights. It helps improve your vision and helps other drivers see you, which reduces the risk of an accident.
Pull Over- If you find yourself in a situation where it is pouring, thundering, or lightening so badly that it affects your visibility or is distracting you, pull over and wait out the storm. It's not worth it to continue on in treacherous conditions if it is potentially dangerous.
These tips are simple adjustments to make when you are driving in the rain. Not only will they make your journey easier, it will also be safer for yourself as well as everyone else on the road. Many accidents that happen when it is raining could have been prevented if the driver's would have used more caution. Next time you are out and about in the car and it starts to rain, use these tips to make sure you are not endangering yourself or anyone else on the road.
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