Spring showers may bring flowers, but they can also bring some unwanted and stressful driving. Whether it’s a light rainfall or heavy downpour, it’s smart to be extra cautious when driving. Nearly a quarter of all car crashes are caused by weather, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Of those, nearly three-quarters can be attributed to rain or wet pavement.
Regardless of where you live, driving in the rain is inevitable at some point.
Tips to help you handle your vehicle safely in slippery conditions
Do the Driveway Check
Before you leave, make sure your car’s equipment is in working order. Maintain windshield wipers and check that headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are all functioning properly so drivers can see you during downpours. Make sure your headlights are also turned on as visibility is reduced to less than 500 feet when it’s raining.
Shift Driving to Fit Conditions
A change in weather should signal even more cautious driving with extra attention to maintaining a safe distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you – several car lengths is a good rule. Avoid heavy breaking by lifting your foot from the accelerator earlier than you normally do in order to slow down or stop sooner. While most cars feature cruise control, the American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends against using it when driving in the rain. During a storm, drivers may need to quickly reduce speed by lifting their foot off of the accelerator, which can’t be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.
Build in Extra Travel Time
A simple but effective way to reduce driving risk in the rain is by allowing for more time to get to your destination safely. Traffic will move slower and your route may be flooded, depending on the severity of the storm. Giving yourself an extra 15 minutes before you need to be somewhere will lower your stress and the chances that you will make a mistake.
Hints to Avoid Hydroplaning
Hydroplaning is a scary driving experience that happens when you lose traction and skid across the surface of the road. To prevent this situation, use commonsense strategies, such as reducing speed, properly inflating tires and replacing worn tires. Steer clear of streets with pooling water where heavy rains may also hide dangerous potholes. If you lose control due to hydroplaning, calmly lift your foot off the accelerator and gently steer in the direction that the front of your car needs to go. This will help
you regain control by realigning your tires. Do not make any sudden turns or slam on your brakes. Be sure to check your tires’ air pressure regularly and rotate tires every 3,000-6,000 miles or during your oil change.
Ventilate your Vehicle
Humidity can be the enemy during a rainstorm. As it increases, your car will get foggy and make visibility difficult and potentially dangerous. This condensation occurs when the temperature outside and inside the car are drastically different. If this occurs, you can either flip your car’s defrost switch on or crack open your window. This should resolve the
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