Driving in the rain: Do’s and Don’ts

Image courtesy of: http://www.lacantdrive.com/2011/12/23/more-blind-freeway-driving-in-the-rain/

Ah, the rainy season. It’s that time of year again. If you want a perfect recipe for traffic in the Metro, all you have to do is add water. With wet weather comes different challenges, and frankly, most drivers continue to believe that their dry, regular driving habits still apply. Wrong. It’s a totally different ballgame when the roads get soaked.

I’d like to share with you some tips and insights on wet weather driving, and hopefully we can break a bad habit or two along the way, making for safer and stress free motoring.

Do: Check your tires

A bald tire reduces traction on a wet roadway and increases the chances of hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is when a tire encounters more water than it can scatter, therefore making the tire ride on a thin film layer of water. This means you are not in contact with the road surface, making turning, accelerating or braking next to useless. Imagine turning the wheel, but the car keeps going in the same direction. Scary, right? Having properly maintained tires with good treads will give the water somewhere to go when driving.

Do: Check your wipers

Keep your wipers clean and new. Old rubber on the wipers can’t push the water away effectively, leaving water to mess with your visibility. In faster driving conditions, old wipers can be as good as driving with no wipers.

Do: Slow Down

This should be obvious. Bad weather reduces visibility and the wet road increases braking distances. Keep your inputs of the wheel, accelerator, and brake as smooth as possible and reduce your speed to anticipate any changes on the road. Any sudden input can lead to loss of control of the vehicle. Having a good following distance of 3 to 5 seconds to the car in front of you will allow more time to react to traffic changes, especially on the expressway.

Do: Turn your lights on

Having your lights on increases the visibility of your vehicle and let’s you see the edges of the roadway or lane better. Reflective signs will be more visible, as well. Do not switch your headlights to full beam, as the rain will reflect the light back, blinding yourself and cars around you.

Don’t: Drive through flooded roads

If you can’t judge the depth of the water on a flooded roadway, it’s probably not a good idea. If you have no choice, observe other vehicles and determine whether it’s safe to risk it. A flooded road can hide potholes, sharp objects or debris, and may seem shallower than it really is. You don’t want the car stalling and floating away, now, do you?

Don’t: Turn on your hazard lights/four way flashers

What’s worse than a person who doesn’t turn on their lights in the rain? A person who turns their hazard lights on. Hear me out, or your ignorance may cause a severe rear-end accident. When your hazard lights are on, you lose the ability to indicate when changing lanes or making a turn. Not to mention, drivers around you have no way to clearly discern a pulled over disabled vehicle on the roadway. So do us a favor and keep those hazard lights off, unless you’re warning others that you’re the hazard. In which case, don’t drive.

Don’t: Keep driving in heavy rain

If the rain severely hampers your visibility and the winds are too strong, find a safe place to pull over and wait it out. Find a lit, protective place if possible. Keep your lights on when pulled over and turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers that you’re pulled over.

Don’t: Be a jerk

Everyone around you is battling the rain. Be extra aware of what’s going on around you. Don’t cut anyone off, splash pedestrians, and drive faster than everyone else. Be safe, predictable and proactive. You don’t want to be the next famous person on social media, do you?

The most important rule of all:

Know the limits of your vehicle. Vehicle dynamics change in wet weather. Learn how your vehicle handles and how it reacts to the rain. Adapt to the conditions; don’t take it head on and hope for the best.