Rain and wet roads can mean driving trouble. On a wet road you cannot stop, accelerate or turn as well because your “tire to road” traction is not as good as on dry roads. If your tires don’t have much tread left, you’ll get even less traction.
It’s always wise to go slower and be cautious if it starts to rain while you are driving. The surface may get wet suddenly when your reflexes are tuned for driving on dry pavement.
The heavier the rain, the harder it is to see. Even if your windshield wiper blades are in good shape, a heavy rain can make it harder to see road signs and traffic signals, pavement markings, the edge of the road, and even people walking. Road spray can often be worse for vision than rain, especially if it comes from a dirty road.
So it is wise to keep your wiping equipment in good shape and keep your windshield washer tank filled. Keep your windows clean inside. This will make them less likely to fog up. Replace your windshield wiper inserts when they show signs of streaking or missing areas on the windshield, or when strips of rubber start to separate from the inserts.
Driving too fast through large water puddles, or even going through some car washes, can cause problems too. The water may affect your brakes. Try to avoid puddles, but if you can’t, try to slow down before you hit them.
Hydroplaning is dangerous. So much water can build up under your tires that your vehicle can actually ride on the water. This can happen if the road is wet enough and you are going fast enough. When your vehicle is hydroplaning, it has little or no contact with the road.
You might not be aware of hydroplaning. You could drive along for some time without realizing your tires aren’t in constant contact with the road. You could find out the hard way; when you have to slow, turn, move out to pass – or if you get hit by a gust of wind. You could suddenly find yourself out of control.
Hydroplaning does not happen often. But it can if your tires do not have much tread or if the pressure in one or more of your tires is low. It can happen if a lot of water is standing on the road. If you can see reflections from trees, telephone poles, or other vehicles and raindrops “dimple” the water’s surface, there could be hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning usually happens on higher speed roads. There just isn’t a hard and fast rule about hydroplaning. The best advice is to slow down when it is raining, and be careful.
Some Other Rainy Weather Tips
- Turn on your headlights — not just your parking lights — to help make you more visible to others.
- Look for hard-to-see vehicles coming from behind. What you see through the rear-view mirrors may be distorted by raindrops on the outside mirror and rear window.
- You may want to use your headlights even in daytime if it’s raining hard.
- Besides slowing down, allow some extra following distance. And be especially careful when you pass another vehicle. Allow yourself more clear room ahead, and be prepared to have your view restricted by road spray. If the road spray is so heavy that you are actually blinded, drop back. Don’t pass until conditions improve. Going more slowly is better than having an accident.
- Use your defogger if it helps.
- Have good tires with proper tread depth.