Six Tips for Driving Safely in Rainy Weather

rain soaked window overlooking a roadway.Late summer in Tacoma doesn’t always bring with it sunny weather and calm roadways. Instead, you could be met with spotty showers, pouring rain, and wet, slippery roads that make driving a bit more difficult. Need to head out but don’t know how to face the harsh weather? Here are six tips to help you navigate wet pavement and heavy rain safely.

  1. Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated

If you’re driving on tires that are underinflated or overinflated, you won’t experience the best traction over wet roads. In fact, you could end up hydroplaning and losing control over your vehicle. Your tire tread is still OK at 4/32 but entirely unsafe at 2/32 of an inch. If this is a problem for you, have your tires inspected before hitting the road.

  1. Make Sure Your Windshield Wipers Are Ready to Go

Your wiper blades keep the windshield free of water vapor and debris buildup, two scenarios that could obstruct your vision. That’s why it’s important to keep them properly lubricated with washer fluid and inspect them for streaking, cracking, or screeching. These symptoms indicate an underlying issue with the wipers and they should be replaced, preferably every six months to a year.

  1. Check Your Lighting Systems

Did you know it’s against the law in some states to drive without your headlights on during rainy weather? Having your headlights on can help you see clearer in the rain, so keeping them properly adjusted and in good working order is a must. You should also test your running lights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals to make sure they’re running smoothly. If you have light covers over the bulbs, also keep them clean to ensure optimal visibility.

  1. Avoid Driving Fast

Your tires aren’t necessarily meant for wet pavement, and as such, they tend to lose their firm grip on the road, even more so when driving at higher speeds. In fact, you could lose up to 33 percent of traction on wet surfaces and should reduce your speed to an equivalent, especially at an intersection or when turning.

  1. Keep a Safe Distance From the Vehicle in Front

A rule of thumb is to keep 5 seconds behind the car in front, about double the time you’d spend if the roads were dry. If you’re driving at night or in heavy traffic, it’s beneficial to add another second per scenario just in case. You should also avoid tailgating the car in front. Otherwise, you’ll have a smaller chance of escaping a frontal collision should that car make an unexpected stop or lose control of their vehicle.

  1. Drive With a Firm Grip on the Steering Wheel

This is an important tip no matter the situation. However, it’s especially useful when roads are wet and slippery. Your tires could lose traction and cause the car to skid. If that’s the case, you won’t be in complete control of your steering. Therefore, you should steer where you want to go while gently moving your foot off the gas, rather than harshly braking.

Don’t let the rain dampen your plans. Keep these six tips in mind to help you safely handle those wet and slippery roads.


Image by Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0 | Cropped from original