The rain clouds have been coming around to visit us lately, leaving our roads wet and dangerous. Wet weather contributes to nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes each year, so here are some driving tips for when the weather isn’t favorable.
1. Avoid Cruise Control– Most modern cars feature cruise control. This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car’s speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.
2. Slow Down and Leave Room– Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car’s chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway.
3. Exercise extreme caution after a long dry spell– During a dry period, engine oil and grease build up on the road over time. When mixed with water from a new rainfall, the road becomes extremely slick. Continued rainfall will eventually wash away the oil, but the first few hours can be the most dangerous.
4. Brake earlier and with less force than you would normally– Not only does this increase the stopping distance between you and the car in front of you, it also lets the driver behind you know that you’re slowing down.
5. Turn on your headlights, even when there’s a light sprinkle- It helps you see the road, and more importantly, it helps other motorists see you. However, don’t blast your high beams in the rain or fog — it’ll obscure your view further, as the light will reflect back at you off the water droplets in the air.