When winter comes, we may not have to deal with blizzards or sub-zero temperatures, but San Diego does get its fair share of rain. Drivers in our area are not as accustomed to driving in inclement weather conditions, so rain can bring an increase in accidents and potential for injury. Observe the following rainy weather driving tips to drive safely in rainy weather and reduce your risk of a a car accident:
1. Check Before Leaving the House
Wet pavement contributes to 1.2 million crashes each year. Many of these can be prevented by taking some preventive action at home. Check your windshield wipers and replace the blades to reduce streaking, and check to make sure your headlights, taillights, and brake lights are all functioning properly. Check you tires’ tread depth to ensure good traction, and check your wiper fluid levels before hitting the road (you can check your car’s tread depth by sticking a quarter into a tread – you shouldn’t be able to see above Washington’s head). Lastly, check your tire pressure at least once a month to ensure they’re at the proper level (you can find this information in your owner’s manual).
2. Turn Off Cruise Control
Cruise control can make your daily commute easier, but turn it off when the rain begins to fall. The feature may be convenient and help prevent accidents in dry conditions, but in the rain it can do the opposite. If you begin to lose traction, for example, you might need to decelerate quickly, which is impossible when cruise control is engaged.
Removing cruise control also encourages you to focus fully on every aspect of driving. Operating your car in inclement weather requires your full concentration so you can respond to any hazards or loss of traction effectively.
3. Take Your Foot Off the Accelerator
One of the most important things you can do when driving in rainy weather is slow down. Hydroplaning can pose a serious threat to drivers, and is possible when there is as little as 1/12 of an inch of water of the roadway, and at speeds as slow as 35 miles per hour. It’s imperative that you slow down and avoid sharp turns or fast braking. By slowing down and allowing enough distance between your car and the car in front of you, you can greatly reduce your risk of accident and injury.
4. React Appropriately
Lastly, drivers can experience skidding or hydroplaning, even when following appropriate precautions. If this happens to you, your reaction makes all the difference in the outcome. If you begin to skid or hydroplane on the road:
- Resist the urge to yank the wheel in the other direction. This can only exacerbate your loss of control.
- Don’t slam on the brakes, as this will upset your vehicle’s balance even further. Instead, don’t panic, maintain your vehicle’s control, and steer the car in the direction it wants to go.
Driving in wet weather requires an abundance of caution. Avoid sudden movements and driving fast, and check your car for safety before leaving home. Observing these tips will help reduce your risk of injury and accident and improve your driving on wet pavement.