Driving in the rain can seem like a scary or fun time, depending on how experienced you are with it. But mastering the art can take years of practice. In Arizona, with monsoon season upon us, it’s not always the easiest to find the right time before big storms hit to brush up your skills. So we wanted to offer a few tips on how to drive during extreme rainfall.
The Dangers of Driving Unprepared
Driving in the rain can be extremely dangerous if you’re not prepared to handle it. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported an average of about 1,235,000 weather-related car accidents each year. This includes incidents that occurred in rain, sleet, snow, fog, blowing debris, slick pavement, or crosswinds. On average, nearly 5,000 people are killed and over 418,000 people are injured in weather-related crashes each year.
The U.S DOT also reported that the vast majority of most weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall: 70% on wet pavement and 46% during rainfall.
So always be prepared before driving in the rain, or if you’re not feeling up to the task, there is no shame in being safe and staying home.
If you are going to drive, follow these tips.
Drive A Clean Car In Good Condition
Rain already impedes your visibility, so make sure your car is clean so you can see as clearly as you possibly can.
Once a month, clean the outside and inside of your car’s windshields and windows, and check your windshield wiper blades for wear. If they leave streaks, it’s time for a replacement. Also check the level of your washer fluid once a week.
Before you drive, make sure your headlights, taillights, turn signals and tire treads are all in working condition.
Know The Roads
Roads tend to flood in Arizona. If you know the roads and know which ones turn hazardous in bad weather, you’ll be well equipped to avoid them. Take a moment to consider your route, too. If it takes you through low-lying bridge underpasses or past ditches prone to flooding, it might be a good day to take the freeway instead.
Also be aware that the road can look dry, even if it’s wet!
Use your Headlights, but Not the Brights
Make sure you’re using your headlights when it rains to increase your visibility. This also allows others to see you!
Bright lights will not help though. They will reflect off the wet road and bounce back into your eyes and the eyes of other drivers.
Take it Slow
The common rule of thumb is to drive at least five miles under the speed limit when the roads are slippery to help promote better driving and reaction time. You should also keep at least two cars worth of distance between you and the driver in front of you.
If you’re going for a longer driver, avoid cruise control. If you hydroplane under cruise control, the automatic acceleration can cause you to lose control of your vehicle when your tires regain traction.
What is Hydroplaning?
Hydroplaning is where your tires skim across the top of the water due to speed and surface tension. This causes your tire to lose traction and can result in you losing control of your vehicle. To avoid hydroplaning, drive slowly and skirt around larger puddles, if you can.
If you do hydroplane, steer where you want to go and don’t be afraid to steer out of the skid. It may take a few adjustments to get back on course, but remain calm and keep driving. Do not slam on the brakes!
Avoid Driving in Deep Water
You never know how deep a puddle is when you’re driving. Cars are surprisingly boutant for their size and weight and easily get swept away in flood waters. Never attempt to drive through a flooded road because of this.
You can lose control of your car in as little as three inches of water. If you manage to stay in control,your car may push some of that water underneath of it, which can cause your engine to stall.
Hold Off On Unnecessary Trips
Not everyone is ready to handle driving in bad weather and that is okay! It’s much better to be safe in these situations than sorry. If you can avoid driving in bad rain storms, we at VIP European Auto highly recommend doing so.
If you’ve driven in floods in the past and want to take care of some water damage, check out our past blog on the topic.