Driving During the Rainy Season
Wintertime isn’t always about snow, snow, snow. In many areas of the country, winter weather doesn’t mean snow or even ice: it’s all about the other type of precipitation, rain. October through March is the rainy season on the West Coast, and that means rain that can come on without warning, heavy rains, flooding and much more.
Rainy weather can actually be more dangerous than even snowstorms. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 46% of weather-related crashes happened during rainfall, and just 17% were during snow or sleet. This may be because during rainfall, drivers typically do not adjust their driving habits. We’re sharing some tips on how to safely drive during the rainy season.
Tires are Key
Your tires have a lot to do with staying safe when roads are slick. Make sure that your tires have adequate tread left on them, and that the tire pressure is within the recommended limits for your tires and type of vehicle. Many tires have built-in treadwear indicators that will let you know when to replace your tires - make sure you check them every few months. According to the NHTSA, tires are not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch.
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It’s a no brainer to slow down when it’s snowy out, but not all drivers ease off the gas pedal when conditions are rainy or slick. However, it’s just as important to slow down when roads are wet, because wet roads reduce the friction between the road and your tires. This makes it more difficult to stop quickly. Traveling too fast on slick roads can also cause hydroplaning, which is when a vehicle’s tires travel on the water rather than grip the road. Hydroplaning can make steering, braking and maintaining control of your vehicle difficult.
Because it’s difficult to stop quickly in rainy conditions, especially with the potential of hydroplaning, give yourself 5-6 seconds between yourself and the car in front of you. To do this, pick a fixed object on the road such as a street sign or light. Watch the car in front of you pass it, then start counting. It should be 5-6 seconds before you pass the same object.
Tires, extra space and reduced speed are the critical components to staying safe in rainy conditions, but there are small actions drivers can take to stay safe. These include:
- Before the rainy season begins, check your windshield wipers and make sure they don’t need replacing
- Avoid using cruise control
- Don’t depend on forward collision warning systems
- Keep in mind that your lights should be on when it’s raining out – and that in many areas, it’s a law
- Fix any chips or cracks in your windshield that limit your visibility – it will get even worse during a storm
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