I think you would agree with me when I say that singing in the rain can be fun.
But driving? Not so much.
For some people, it even produces anxiety.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are more than 950,000 automobile accidents every year caused by wet pavement, approximately 384,000 injuries, and 4,700 deaths.
While those numbers may seem staggering, driving in the rain doesn’t have to be a nerve-racking, white-knuckled experience.
1) Dry the soles of your shoes
Slippery soles can slide over the car’s pedals, and that one slip can lead to an accident.
If you’ve been walking around in the rain, dry the soles of your shoes by rubbing them on the carpet before even driving off.
If you have some tissue or some old newspaper handy, even better.
Losing control because of your foot slipping off the surface of the gas, brake, or clutch pedal, is pretty scary. On the racetrack, a rainy day is treated with added respect.
Your crew will wipe your shoes for you even before you step into the car, just to be sure you don’t mess up your heel-and-toe maneuvers because of wet soles.
2) Use your park lights
Or even your headlights. This is all the added visibility that you need—even during a heavy downpour. Don’t use your hazards, please.
This may seem obvious, but “Many people drive subconsciously, out of habit,” says Praeter,
“and when it rains, they often don’t adjust their thinking.”
When driving in conditions that aren’t ideal, try to stay alert and focus on what’s going on around you.
4) Turn on your headlights
Did you know that it’s actually the law in ALL states to turn your headlights on when visibility is low?
And in many states you’re also required to have your headlights on whenever the windshield wipers are on.
According to Praeter, well-working windshield wipers and tires with good tread (not threadbare) are also must-haves for driving in the rain.
5) Be careful not to hydroplane
That’s when your tires get more traction on the layer of water on the road than on the actual road itself—as a result, your car starts to slide uncontrollably.
Hydroplaning may sound complicated, but it’s actually easy:
You only need to be driving at a speed of over 35 miles per hour, and just one-twelfth of an inch of rain on the road.
So what should you do if you start to hydroplane?
Experts say you should let off the accelerator slowly, and keep the steering wheel straight until you regain control of your vehicle.
6) Cruise control is a no-no
It may seem ironic, but on surfaces slick with rain or snow, cruise control can actually cause more harm than good, and can even cause you to LOSE control of your vehicle.
You may think that using cruise control will help you maintain a steady speed in wet conditions, but the truth is if you hydroplane while using cruise control, your car will actually go faster—and you won’t be able to regain control.
7) Slow down
According to Praeter, “Speed limit signs are designed for ideal conditions, and that means driving when you have little traffic and good visibility.”
Driving in rainy or wet conditions hardly qualifies as ideal, so ease off the gas and allow yourself more time to get safely to your destination.
8) Allow more space
Your vehicle won’t react the same in wet conditions as in dry, so consider giving the vehicle in front of you a little more space.
Adding 1 to 2 extra seconds of following time in rainy or wet conditions will give you more time to react and help you avoid potential accidents.
9) Turn on your windshield wipers
It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to panic when the rain begins to fall and your visibility decreases.
It’s a good idea to take the time to familiarize yourself with the location of your windshield wipers switch BEFORE you’re actually driving in the rain.
This will help you feel more confident and comfortable turning on your wipers while driving– and prevent you the panic and struggle of trying to figure out how to turn them on in unfavorable conditions.
Last but not least, remember to use your windshield wipers even in a light drizzle.
While you may think you don’t need them if the rainfall is light, but it can accumulate quickly on your windshield, reducing your visibility.
Your windshield wiper speed is adjustable, so you can choose the speed that works for whatever condition you’re in—from a light mist to a heavy downpour.
There are also many rain-repelling products available that you can spray or wipe onto the glass to repel water and avoid the accumulation of rainwater on your windshield.
10) Beware of standing water
Not only does driving through standing water put you at risk for hydroplaning, it can actually cause your vehicle to stall out. If the water is deep enough, such as during very heavy rainfall and flooding, it can be easy to become stuck in standing water.
Whenever possible, avoid places where water has collected in the road, either by switching lanes or going around the area.
11) Defog your windows
Have you ever noticed your car windows start to fog up when it’s raining?
This is caused by the increased humidity levels, and it can be easily taken care of.
The fastest way to defog your windows and windshield is to rapidly lower the temperature inside—which will stop the moisture from condensing on the glass.
You can do this by turning on the defrost vent WITHOUT the heat.
Another way to defog quickly in a pinch is to roll down the windows—but this may not always be feasible if the rainfall is heavy or when it’s very cold outside.
12) Pull over
If the rainfall becomes so heavy that your visibility is limited, don’t be afraid to pull your vehicle over.
Turn on your hazard lights and safely pull your car over, either to a shoulder or off the road completely.
You will probably notice other drivers doing the same thing.
Wait until the rain lets up and you feel that you can safely continue on your way.
(Bonus) Last but not least…. Stay Home!
This last one may not always be convenient, but if you feel like it’s just not safe to be out on the roads, DON’T!
It’s better to miss an event or arrive a little late than to become involved in an accident due to unsafe driving conditions.
In conclusion, driving in the rain doesn’t have to be a nightmare—just take a few extra precautions, and don’t rush it!