With the coming of spring come also the inevitable downpours. The heavens open, and water just shamelessly pours out of the skies like the gods are shedding tears for all the atrocities going in the world, which considering the situation of things won’t be out of place. Anyway, we are not here to talk about the gods and the atrocities, we are here to keep you from committing another one by driving carelessly in the rain.

For those in the part of the world where they experience up to 10 months of rain, driving in the rain might be second nature, but for some of us, nature hasn’t provided us with as many learning opportunities so ultimately when the test comes to drive in the rain, we don’t do so well.

Driving in the rain is every bit as dangerous as it is difficult but drive you must (fact: statistics prove that there are more accidents during in the rain than in the snow). Aside from terrible visibility especially in very heavy rains, drivers also have hydroplaning to worry about.

If you’re a newbie to driving, hydroplaning is a situation in which the tires of your vehicle begin to move on water instead of on the road. It usually happens when the driver is moving too fast during a heavy downpour and it isn’t as cool as it sounds. It’s very dangerous as it becomes difficult to steer or brake and ultimately, it could lead to the loss of control of the vehicle.

So to stay safe, here are some excellent tips for driving in the rain that you should know. Thank us later!

Map out your journey beforehand: Thank God for meteorologists, you can now easily find out about weather predictions even from your smartphone. If a downpour is predicted, then ensure that the route you plan to take won’t be flooded, if it will most likely be, then you know what to do: avoid it. Ensure you check out for potential traffic delay too. Plus, inform friends and relatives about the route you plan on taking just in case there’s an emergency.

Inspect your tires and wipers: Normally, you should do this regularly; the rule of thumb is 6 months. And even more so, you should inspect them right before the rains start coming in. Your wipers are going to be doing a lot of work in the rainy season so you should ensure that they are ready to brave the weather.

As for your tires, ensure that the treads aren’t worn out. Now the deep treads aren’t the ones that provide the grip for your tires, what they actually do is to disperse water; it’s the smooth part of the rubber that actually grips the road. Now if your tire is bald (no grooves), the water won’t be dispersed and that could cause hydroplaning (or aquaplaning).

Now, here’s a fantastic way to check if your treads are deep enough for you to be safe while driving in the rain. It’s called the penny test. Find a penny then put in the tread of your tires, ensuring that Lincoln has his head pointed towards the wheel’s center. If his hair is invisible, great for you, if not, get you some new tires.

Fill up! You don’t want to be caught “wet” without enough fuel in your tank. There are few things as bad as stopping in the middle of a storm to look for gas, so fill up before you set off!

Be visible: The rain will, of course, obscure your visibility and that of other drivers. It’s therefore important that all drivers find a way to ensure that they are visible to other drivers and prevent a road accident. One way to do this might be to change your car to a flaming red color, and yet a much simpler inexpensive way to do this might be to simply use your headlights. In fact, in some states driving in the rain with your headlights on is a legal requirement. Well, legal requirement or not, it is a sensible thing to do, so please do it.

Whatever you do avoid hydroplaning: A lot of people think that if you run through a puddle quickly, you’ll be out of it quickly, and consequently, you’ll be safer, but we beg to disagree. If you move too fast, you could hydroplane and lose control (and you’d also splash water on innocent pedestrians who’ve had their baths thank you, and that is not cool). So, drive slowly as you approach puddles.

What if you hydroplane? Keep calm and make sure that both your hands remain on the steering wheel. As you do that, apply the brakes gradually. Do NOT slam on the brakes, if you do that, you could skid and get into an accident.

In the end, it’s best to avoid the situation in the first place by looking ahead while you drive and slow down as you approach puddles.

But if you skid, simply ease off on the accelerator, and steer the car in the direction you want it to go.

Never cruise control: Cruise control is a wonderful feature that actually helps. But it’s best used only when the roads are dry. You know what cruise controls do, don’t you? They help your car maintain a steady speed. Now if you do this in the rain, remember that cruise control isn’t so smart yet so it can’t detect puddles and water pools. And you also recall that speeding through water pools on the road can cause your car to hydroplane. So what you want to do is to ensure that your car is under manual control while you drive in the rain.

Slow down: The rains will make the roads slippery and greatly increase the risk of a skid, so ensure that you slow down and give yourself ample time to react. Ideally, you should drive about 5 to 10mph slower than the normal speed limit. Furthermore, always keep to your right and check your mirror. Ensure that you’re generally more cautious and courteous too. Anything to make the already tense rain experience a little easier is always very welcome and appreciated, at least in most places.

Instead of keeping several car lengths between you and the driver in front of you, make sure you’re about 5 seconds behind the car ahead of you. That is, if the car turns a corner, you wait 5 seconds before you do the same. If it’s at night, then try staying 6 seconds behind.

Again, in heavy traffic, avoid being boxed in. By maintaining a space on either side of your car, you help yourself with an easy way out in case there’s a sudden stop by the vehicle in front of you.

Keep an eye out for cyclists and pedestrians: Everyone is in a hurry to get out of the rain, and visibility is generally poorer, so ensure you’re very observant. Most people make rash decisions as pertains to crossing when in the rain due to impatience.

Ensure your windscreen isn’t foggy: You can do this by keeping the AC on and ensuring that your demisters/heaters are on both in the front and at the back.

What to do in a storm: If the rain is so heavy that you cannot see the road or other drivers from a safe distance, then it’s time to pull over and be patient. Wait until you can see properly. Ensure that where you’re parked is completely safe and leave your hazard warning lights on, this is to ensure that other drivers are alerted.

So, there you have it, all the tips you need to ensure that you stay safe while driving in the rain. Remember, don’t panic, it all begins in the mind. Once you’re calm, you can make great driving decisions with the tips we’ve given you and you’ll come out clean. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Billy Miller
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