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How To Drive In The Rain: The Guide To Staying Safe and Dry

Last updated: May 29, 2021
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Before you set off, ask yourself if the journey is really necessary or whether it might be better to postpone until the worst of the rain has passed. How to drive in the rain? Well here is the guide to stay safe and dry. Listen to the radio. Find out if there are any road closures, accidents, or floods on your intended route and work out an alternative journey. Charge your mobile phone. You may need to pull over to let people know that you’re running late.

If you do need to go, check your windscreen wipers before you set off. Your wiper blades – both front and rear – must be in good condition. If they’re not, change them straight away.

Check your tire tread depth. If you’re driving on summer or all-season tires, we recommend a minimum tread depth of 3mm. If you’re driving on winter tires, we recommend 4mm. Fill up with fuel. Heavy rain often causes hold-ups as cars break down or collide. The last thing you need is to be stuck in traffic with your wipers, heater, and lights on but hardly any fuel. Familiarise yourself with the air conditioning and heater settings on your car so you know how to demist the interior quickly.

Ready your windshield wipers & Keep them slow

How to drive in the rain - Ready your windshield wipers

Along with keeping your windshield clean, you can also improve your visibility in wet conditions by ensuring that your wipers are up to the job, and by using the right washer fluid.

Replace your wipers every year to prevent them from cracking, breaking, or not sealing properly when you need them most.

Try a hydrophobic washer fluid that will cause water to bead up and drop off your windshield increasing your rain driving safety, rather than sticking to it and blocking your view.

During any inclement weather or unfavorable driving conditions, your first reaction should always be to adjust your speed accordingly. Wet *roads reduce your traction, and slowing down reduces the chances of you skidding out, and will give you more time to react to emergencies.

  • Wet roads can reduce your traction by about a third, so you should also reduce your speed by a third
  • Even small amounts of water can make the road more slippery because the water mixes with oils on the road, and this creates a greasy layer.

Roads are built to withstand different weather conditions in different parts of the country, so if you’re new to an area, use extra caution during or after a storm.

Driving too quickly on wet roads can lead to hydroplaning*, which means that your tires lose contact with the road. When a car hydroplanes, you have very little control in terms of steering or braking.

* Learn more about what is hydroplaning and how to handle it in the section below.

Turn your lights on & stay focused

If your windshield wipers are on, your lights should be, too. Headlights can help increase your visibility during the rain and make it easier for other vehicles to see you, avoiding a collision when it’s tough to see through the rain.

Stay focused. When you’re behind the wheel, it’s important to always pay attention to the road, other cars, and pedestrians. This is especially true in the rain when you cannot see as well, and your ability to stop may be hindered by the slickness of the road. Stay focused by:

    • Keeping your eyes on the road at all times
    • Paying attention to what drivers and pedestrians are doing around you.
    • Turning off the radio, and ignoring your cell phone and other electronic devices.
    • Easing any conversations you were having with passengers.
    • Not eating, reading, or putting makeup on while driving.

Hydroplaning, or aquaplaning, is a dangerous driving condition that occurs when water causes your car’s tires to lose contact with the road surface. Whether it lasts for an instant or several seconds, hydroplaning is a jolting indication that you’ve lost all the available traction. In those moments, you are for all intents and purposes a passenger. It’s scary.

Be prepared to react if you hydroplane. Hydroplaning can occur at speeds as low as 35 miles (56 km) per hour, and when it happens your car may not react when you turn the steering wheel, and your back end may feel loose. In the event that your car does hydroplane:

Stay calm

  • Avoid turning the steering wheel
  • Ease your foot off the accelerator
  • Apply slow and gentle pressure to the brakes

Drive with both hands on the wheel & stay five seconds behind the car in front of you.

Drive with both hands on the wheel. You should always drive with your hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock on the steering wheel because this gives you maximum control if you have to turn, swerve, or react quickly. It’s especially important to have both hands on the wheel when driving conditions are subpar.

While traditional wisdom said to drive with your hands at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on the steering wheel, this increases the chances of injury from airbags in case of a collision.

The 5 Second Rule

Stay five seconds behind the car in front of you. You should always leave a three to four-second gap between your car and the car in front of you, and you should increase this to at least five seconds when it’s raining.

Not only does this give you more time to stop or adjust if necessary, but it also prevents reduced visibility caused by the spray from other cars.

To determine how many seconds you are behind another car, make note of when that car passes a landmark (like a street sign) and then count how many seconds it takes before your car passes that same landmark.
Leaving space includes leaving an opening where you can escape quickly if necessary. To do this, make sure you always leave at least one open space beside or in front of you that you can move into.

If you’re driving in wet conditions, it’s important to leave plenty of space between the cars around you. Drive with the flow of traffic and try not to get too close to any vehicles so you don’t accidentally rear-end them if you have to stop suddenly.

Avoid slamming on the brakes & Take turns slowly 

Avoid slamming on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes can cause you to slide forward, and you won’t be able to control the car. Hitting the brakes too hard can also force water into your brakes, making them less effective.

Instead of braking, you can also slow yourself down by easing off the accelerator, and downshifting if you have a manual transmission.
Not being able to stop as quickly in the rain is another reason why it’s so important to leave extra space between your car and the one in front of you.

Take turns slowly.

Turning too quickly on a wet road can cause your tires to hydroplane, and this means you won’t be able to control the car, and could skid out. Whenever you have a turn coming up, signal early and start slowing down sooner than you would in good conditions.

Just like with driving, you should reduce the speed of your turns by about a third when it’s raining.

Don’t use cruise control & Pull over if necessary.

How To Drive In The Rain: Don’t use cruise control.

Cruise control is another factor that can lead to hydroplaning. The weight of the car shifts slightly when you ease on or off the accelerator, and this helps the tires maintain traction with the road. But with cruise control, because the speed of the car is constant, there is no weight shift, and the car can lose traction.

How To Drive In The Rain: Pullover if necessary.

Never be afraid to pull over to the side of the road if you don’t feel comfortable driving. If you can’t see the sides of the road, the cars in front of you, or your surroundings at a safe distance, pull over.

  • Other things that can reduce your visibility include the glare from other car lights and lightning.
  • You may also need to pull over if there’s too much water on the road, the road is too slick, or you simply don’t feel safe.
  • To pull over safely, turn on your signal, check your mirror and blind spots, pull over as far as possible to the side of the road, and turn on your four-way lights.

Summary

Safety is our #1 priority and it should be yours too.

We suggest always waiting out on the rain to pass because nothing is more important than your life.

STAY SAFE!

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