Rain is considered the most dangerous weather-related driving hazard in most areas of the United States, especially California. Contrary to popular misconception, areas that see frequent rain are less prone to rain-related accidents than traditionally dry states. Rain is especially dangerous in cities that normally have dry weather for two reasons: driver experience with the rain and a buildup of oil and debris on the road that becomes very slick when it first starts to rain. Here are five tips for driving safely when the road is slick with rain, provided by Altra Insurance Services.
1. Be Prepared for Hydroplaning
Hydroplaning happens when a car’s tires get more traction on the water on the road than on the actual road, which causes the car to slide out of control without the ability to brake. Hydroplaning doesn’t require a lot of water on the road. Driving more than 35 MPH on new tires with just 1/12 of an inch of water is enough to hydroplane because this low level of water still causes the tires to displace a gallon of water per second to stay on the road. If you feel your car hydroplaning, respond quickly by letting your foot off the accelerator slowly and steering straight until you get control of the car again. Don’t slam on the brakes or make a sudden turn.
2. Slow Down
One of the most important things you can do when the road becomes slick is simply slow down and leave more room between you and the car in front of you. Driving slower can be crucial in reducing your chances of hydroplaning. Allow 2 extra seconds between you and the car in front of you because your car won’t have as much traction on the road for stopping. You should also slow down earlier than normal to stop for turns, intersections, and other traffic.
3. Turn Off Cruise Control
Cruise control is designed for good, dry road conditions. If you use cruise control on wet roads, it can increase your risk of losing control of the car because you may be forced to decelerate quickly if the car skids or you hydroplane. You cannot do this with cruise control engaged. In fact, cruise control could cause your car to speed up when you hydroplane.
4. Avoid Heavy Braking
Slowing down earlier than you would normally to prepare for a stop or turn is an important way to stay safe and avoid skidding on a wet road. If your car does start to skid, keep watching the road but steer in the direction your car wants to go. Don’t slam on the brakes because this will upset the balance of your car and make it even harder to stay in control.
5. Turn on Your Headlights
California law requires you to turn on your headlights when using your windshield wipers. In other words, if it’s raining, your headlights should be on. Turning on your headlights doesn’t just increase your visibility. It also makes it easier for other drivers to see you on the road. It can be easy to sneak into someone’s blind spot when it’s raining, side mirrors and windows are foggy, and your headlights are off. Just remember you want to see and be seen when it’s raining.
Being cautious and using these tips while driving in the rain may reduce the risks of unwanted incidents, but in the event you do have an accident, it’s important to have adequate car insurance. San Diego vehicle owners can reach out to Altra Insurance Services for affordable insurance coverage. Give us a call at (800) 719-9972 to receive a complimentary quote.