When we think of the rainy season, we usually think about the summer. Or April. But one of Georgia’s rainiest months is actually February, with March also receiving a good deal of precipitation. So, it seems like a good time to go over some tips for driving in the rain. Driving in the rain puts many people’s nerves on edge, but with these tips, you can take care and stay safe in the rain.
1. Check your car before you depart.
Make sure that your car is ready to take a trip in the rain. Check that your brake lights, turn signals, and headlights are all functional – it’s really important that you’re as visible as possible in the rain. Replace any windshield wiper blades that aren’t doing their job very well. Lastly, check your tires. They should have a good tread depth; bald tires do not get as much traction on the road as newer tires with proper tread depth, which makes them dangerous. Tire tread depth should be no less than about 3/32 of an inch. It’s also a good idea to check your tire pressure once a month, especially when it’s cold.
2. Slow down.
When it rains, you need to slow down and take it easy. Slower speeds make it less likely that you’ll hydroplane. Hydroplaning is when the tires of a car actually rise off the asphalt and coast on top of the water; a car can hydroplane at speeds as low as 35 mph. Even 1/12 of an inch of water on the roads requires your car’s tires to move an entire gallon of water per second just to keep their grip on the pavement.
Anyway, all of this is to say that it’s important to take it slow when it’s raining. It’s also a good idea to slow down early and gently if you’re coming to an intersection, a turn, or another traffic stop. Give yourself time to come to a stop safely.
3. Increase your following distance.
Leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front of you. When the roads are slippery, it takes more time for your car to come to a stop, so you need to give yourself some personal space. Rain can lead to more traffic, too, which makes it especially important to leave lots of room in front of your car. Handling Atlanta traffic is not easy sometimes.
4. Avoid braking hard and turning sharply.
If you jam on your brakes, you could cause your tires to lock. Your car could skid. When you come to a turn, slow down first, then take your foot off the brake and gently turn the vehicle.
5. Drive in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you.
Follow the path of the cars in front of you. The road will probably be less slick along the tire tracks.
6. Turn on your headlights and windshield wipers.
Headlights help other drivers see you when you’re driving in the rain, and windshield wipers help you see other drivers. It’s hard enough to see clearly in the rain – help yourself out by activating your headlights and wipers.
7. Try to avoid pools of standing water.
It’s easy to hydroplane if you go through a puddle too fast. If you can, try to safely avoid driving through standing water on the roadways by changing lanes. At the very least, slow down before reaching the water. But remember – don’t slam on the brakes.
8. Know how to handle hydroplaning.
If you get into a situation where your tires lift off the road, it’s important to do a few things:
- Don’t slam on the brakes. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, but try to resist it.
- Take your foot off the gas.
- Hold the wheel steady and gently steer in the direction you’re skidding if that’s what the car needs to do.
- Wait for the tires to catch on the asphalt.
- Regain control.
- Pull over to take a minute to and breathe and recover.
9. Postpone any trips that aren’t strictly necessary.
If it’s bucketing down rain and you don’t have to be out on the road, try to reschedule your trip or postpone it. Of course, there are times when it can’t be helped and you have to drive in the rain, or maybe you’re already on the road and it starts pouring. But if it’s at all possible, you may want to take a literal rain check.
Driving in rain is not something most people like to do. Slick roads and poor visibility are definitely not ideal driving conditions. It’s important to remember to slow down, increase your following distance, and turn on your headlights and windshield wipers. Stay calm and keep your attention on the road – definitely no texting and driving in the rain. Remember, there are many benefits of being a safe driver, and that means knowing how to handle the rain.
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