Weather forecasters advise motorists to be extra cautious when snow and ice are expected, but driving in the rain can also be treacherous. Driving in the rain is dangerous because wet surfaces decrease tire traction, and standing water also camouflages debris, potholes, and other road hazards.
Just a small amount of rain can push up motor oil from the road, which is also bad for tire traction. Excess water sitting on top of streets can be problematic because it can cause vehicles to hydroplane. Hydroplaning is when traction is completely lost and vehicles slide out of control. You do not have to be driving fast for this to happen. Hydroplaning can occur in low amount of water as well.
Slippery roads are only part of the problem. It can be much harder to see when driving in rainy conditions, and poor visibility increases the chance of a car accident.
Standing water should be avoided when possible, as it can be much deeper than it looks. It is up to motorists to adjust their driving when it is raining, and knowing what to do can prevent accidents and save lives.
How Can You Prepare for a Rainy Drive?
Traffic often slows down in the rain, so expect your commute to take longer than usual and plan accordingly. If you use a GPS device, enter the information before you leave, not while you are driving. Also, put your cell phone on Do Not Disturb mode, and avoid other distractions, such as eating, drinking, playing loud music, and grooming, when you are driving.
When you are out in the rain, you should be driving under the speed limit. The speed limit is for optimal weather conditions. A good guideline is to decrease your speed by one-third in wet conditions. Not only will this help with tire traction, it will decrease your stopping distance.
Avoid tailgating at all times, especially when the roads are wet. If the driver in front of you slams on their brakes, you could cause a serious rear-end accident.
You should also avoid using cruise control when driving in the rain. If it is on and your vehicle starts hydroplaning, the car will actually go faster. A sudden burst of speed could put you at risk for a crash. It can take a few seconds for the cruise control to shut off, so even if you act quickly, it might not be enough to avoid an accident.
Give yourself extra time to come to a stop at traffic lights, and take your time when making turns.
Since side lanes generally accumulate more standing water, stay in the middle ones as much as possible. You can drive in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you, as their tires have already pushed some water out of your path. Avoid puddles, but if you are unable to, tap lightly on the brakes to dry off the rotors after you pass through. Do not apply the brakes while driving through the puddle.
Driving in the rain at night comes with additional hazards, such as glaring lights from oncoming traffic that get amplified by rain on the windshield. Do not look directly at oncoming headlights, and try dimming your dashboard lights. You can also use the ventilation system to cut down the fog on the windows. Keeping the insides and outsides of your windows clean will also help. Remember to keep your headlights on as well. Not only is this better for visibility, most states require them to be on in bad weather.
Are There Ways to Prevent Hydroplaning?
Although there are no guarantees, you can reduce the risk of hydroplaning by always having your tires inflated to the right pressure. Tire maintenance is just as important as keeping the rest of your vehicle maintained, and people who neglect to do this can end up hydroplaning. Rotate your tires according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and replace them when needed. To further protect your vehicle from rainy day accidents, make sure that the headlights, tail lights, and blinkers are in good working order.
What Should You Do if Your Car Starts to Hydroplane?
It is hard not to panic, but remaining calm can help you avoid a car accident. Breathe deeply, and do not accelerate, turn the wheel abruptly, or slam on the brakes. Take your foot off your accelerator, and slowly and smoothly steer the vehicle towards an unoccupied, open space on or off the road. Keep steering and looking in the direction that you are going, and continue doing so until the tires regain their traction. Once they have a firm grip on the road, you can continue on your way.
The best way to avoid hydroplaning on a rainy road is to avoid driving during the storm or right after it stops. If there was a long dry spell before a heavy rainfall, the roads can be extra slippery, especially in the first few hours. It is recommend to hold off on driving for at least a half an hour after heavy rain.
When unexpected downpours strike and visibility is very poor, the best course of action is to pull over and wait it out. Choose your spot carefully, and do not stop in the middle of a road or highway. If you have to pull off onto a shoulder, turn on your hazard lights.
Loveland Car Accident Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Offer Trusted Legal Advice to Those Who Have Been Injured in Weather-Related Accidents
Car accidents happen in all kinds of weather and at any time of the year. They can lead to serious injuries, fatalities, lost time from work, property damage, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in a weather-related accident, speak with one of our Loveland car accident lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office. Call us at 513-488-1135 or contact us online to learn more and to schedule a free consultation. Located in Loveland, Ohio, we assist clients in Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.