Rainy roads or wet roads are a very common phenomenon that can cause many accidents every day. Unfortunately, many people do not know the best ways to handle a wet road and its effects on driving.
Wet roads can be caused by rain, heavy water runoff, or water from other sources such as ocean water or sprinklers. Regardless of the source, how to drive in the wet differs little.
Driving on a wet road can be tricky because of two main factors: traction and vision. Traction is the ability to stop your vehicle on a wet road, and this is reduced by moisture. Vision is reduced by fog and rain, making it harder to see ahead of you.
Slowly turn on your windshield wipers
This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people do not practice this safety precaution. Many people believe that leaving the windshield wipers on low or middle setting is safe, but that is not the case.
Bullet point: Do not rely on your rearview mirror for your visibility
Many people rely on their rearview mirror to see the road when it begins to rain. While this is useful, if the car behind you has their headlights on, you will not be able to see them in your rearview mirror.
This is because light reflects off of the water droplets, making it look like there is nothing there. By turning on your windshield wipers, you are guaranteeing visibility no matter what.
Immediately switch to a different road
If the lane is blocked by debris or a vehicle, move to a different lane if possible. If not, try to avoid driving in the affected area as much as possible.
If it begins to rain while you’re driving, your best bet is to keep going until you can safely switch to another road. It may be frustrating, but it’s safer than stopping in traffic or on the highway.
It can be difficult to recognize when your tires have lost traction with the road surface. If you feel like you are having to fight the wheel to turn or control the car, then you probably have lost traction.
Once you have switched roads, do not look back at the original road until you have reached safety. This will help prevent you from being distracted again.
Slowly switch to a different road
In heavy rain, you should immediately switch to a different road if you see a large amount of rain coming your way.
Parallel roads provide the most safety in this situation, as well as beforehand if there is an upcoming storm. If there are no parallel roads, then avoid the highest points of the road and avoid bridges as much as possible.
By moving to a lower level of the road, your car will be less likely to be struck by debris from the storm. Bridges are more vulnerable to flooding so avoiding these is smart pre-caution.
Should you find yourself in a car surrounded by flood water, do not attempt to drive through it- get out and move to safety. Water can mask underlying debris or structural damage that could potentially put you at risk.
Apply the brakes lightly
This is the most important thing to do in this situation. If you go into panic mode and press down hard on the brakes, your car will lose traction and you may hurtle forward.
Panic mode is what leads to high-speed crashes, so keeping your cool is important here.
Bullet point: Don’t accelerate if the rain is heavy
Accelerating will just increase the pressure on the tires, making it harder for the car to move forward. Again, this can lead to high-speed crashes as the car fails to move forward.
Bullet point: Stay in control of the car
If the rain is coming down hard, try to keep an eye on what’s ahead of you and behind you so you can see when you need to take action. Scanning your surroundings will also help you avoid other vehicles or hazards on the road.
Do not brake until it is too late
Once you begin to brake, your car will take a longer time to stop. This is because you are continuously applying pressure to the brake until you stop.
Continuously pressing the brake will also lead to premature brake pad and tire wear. When it rains, the water will burden the brakes even more, making it even more difficult to stop.
Continuous braking can lead to skidding, which is when the car moves in a direction opposite of the direction it is going. This is a bad thing because it can lead to loss of control of the car.
Heed this warning: if it begins to rain heavily, do not idle in traffic or at a red light. Pull over and park so that you are not continuously applying pressure to the brake.
Switch on your headlights
This may sound like a no-brainer, but many drivers don’t do it. Keeping your headlights on in bright conditions is a good habit to have, but it becomes even more important when it starts raining.
Headlights help other drivers see you on the road, as well as the pavement ahead of you. When it rains, the water on the road can make it harder to see where you are going and what is coming up ahead.
More importantly, if another vehicle splashes water onto your car or truck, your headlights will show that and prevent you from going off the road or into another vehicle.
Headlights also assist other vehicles in recognizing that there is a vehicle on the road – particularly if it is dark outside. As simple as this seems, it can potentially save lives.
In situations where heavy rain causes flooding, your safest course of action is to stay in your vehicle. If you must leave the vehicle, make sure to do so in a safe place.
If you have to exit the vehicle due to it being submerged or because it is moving, follow these steps:
• Swim toward shore in a calm body position using occasional breathing strokes.
• Walk on wet ground if there is no more water flowing into the area. If there is water flowing into the area, swim or float away from the flow direction.
• Take shelter in a dry area such as a building or tree cover. If no shelter is available, use blankets or waterproof coverings to keep warm.
• Call 911 and provide your location if possible.
Use cruise control
Many drivers believe that keeping your foot on the gas during a heavy rain is a good idea. This is not the case!
Cruise control is a helpful feature to have. When you have cruise control set, the car automatically maintains a specific speed.
You can set it and forget it, so to speak. This is very helpful when driving in bad weather, especially since you will probably be focusing more on the road than your GPS or other things.
Cruise control helps keep your car at a consistent speed, which is what you want to do when there is heavy rain. If you did not have cruise control and had to constantly press down on the gas to maintain a speed, you would risk going too fast.