Tips for Driving Safely in Rainy Weather
While many people think—and worry about—winter driving—especially in areas that receive considerable snowfall and other winter hazards—far less consideration is given to spring and summer rainy weather driving. While showers during this time of year are oftentimes a welcome relief for those of us in hot and humid areas, AAA reports that wet roads contribute to almost 1.2 million automobile accidents each year.
In fact, driving on wet roadways and in the rain can be more dangerous than driving in the snow as the likelihood of crashes increases when the rain starts and the roads become wet.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that of the nearly 5.75 million vehicle crashes each year, 22% of them—or 1.26 million—are weather-related, whether due to rain, snow, fog, sleet, severe wind, blowing sand or snow, or wet pavements. From these accidents, almost 6,000 people are killed and more than 445,000 people are injured. Of particular importance is that the majority—a whopping 73%–of weather-related vehicular accidents occur during rainfall and on wet roads while 46% occur during active rainfall.
Promoting rainy driving safety is an easy task provided one is cognizant of the risks and causes. Here are the top tips for driving safely in rainy weather.
Vehicle maintenance is crucial
Like anything, safety begins before undertaking any task—including driving. Ensuring one’s vehicle is well-maintained and fully functioning is key.
Of particular importance is to ensure that vehicle windshields are clean and clear. Replacing worn windshield wipers is a necessary first step toward rainy weather safe driving. In addition to being able to see, it is as important to be able to be seen. Thus, during rain, turning on one’s lights—as well as ensuring that all lights and turn signals are in working order—is also critical.
Another crucial component is ensuring that tires have adequate tread depth and are properly inflated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stresses that tires with 2/32” of tread are considered unsafe, but it is highly recommended to replace tires before they become too worn.
Other safety tips for rainy driving
In addition to being able to see, being seen, and having properly treaded and inflated tires, insurance companies, government agencies, and safety organizations offer several other tips.
When a vehicle travels too fast on a wet road, hydroplaning can occur. Hydroplaning happens when a vehicle’s tires get more traction on the water on the road than the road itself. As a result, the car slides uncontrollably. It is important to understand that a mere 1/12th of an inch of water on the road coupled with a speed of 35 miles per hour is all that’s necessary to make a car hydroplane. This can be corrected by slowly letting off the accelerator, steering into the skid, and gradually straightening the wheels as control is regained.
That said, avoiding hydroplaning is as simple as slowing down when the roads are wet. Other protective measures include avoiding hard braking and sharp turning as well as not following too closely. In fact, safety experts recommend allowing even more distance between vehicles when entering an intersection or preparing to turn and braking earlier and more gently to avoid skidding, hydroplaning, and accidents. A general rule of thumb is to reduce one’s speed by approximately one third when it’s raining or wet.
Nix cruise control
Whereas cruise control can be a godsend for long road trips, it is designed for dry conditions. In wet weather, using cruise control can increase the chance of losing control of the vehicle.
Avoid standing water
While this may sound like a no-brainer, people will continue to underestimate the depth of standing water or floodwaters and attempt to drive through them, ultimately getting stuck. Among the most important words of wisdom in this situation is to size up the puddle’s depth, look for any items that may damage the vehicle’s wheels or undercarriage, keep the vehicle in low gear to maintain momentum while driving through the water, and let excess water drain from the car upon exiting the “puddle.”
In fact, driving through water that is too deep can cause damage to electrical system components that are installed in the floorboards, faulty braking and water-warped brakes, and engine failure resulting from water entering the car’s intake system.
Additional words of advice include keeping an eye out for larger or fast-moving vehicles which may create spray and reduce visibility, taking care not to spray others, and keeping the air conditioning on to defrost windows.
Staying abreast of weather and road conditions before leaving can also go a long way toward being safe. Check here for up-to-the-minute South Carolina road conditions from the SCDOT.
If you have questions or have been in an accident, please contact Venus Poe today at 864-963-0310 click here to fill out an online case evaluation form. We have offices in Greenville, South Carolina and Fountain Inn, South Carolina to better serve you. Knowing all of your rights is imperative to make sure you are fully compensated after an accident. There is no obligation or charge for our initial consultation to see if we can help you with your accident case.
The information you obtain in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.You should not read this article to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction in which you may have a case.