Eight Tips to Help You Drive Safely in Washington Rainstorms
Driving in rainstorms can become nerve-racking when you’re caught on the highway or along a busy thoroughfare. The trick is to take it calmly, and don’t let the storm or the behavior of other drivers get to you. Here are some tips to stay safe.
Slow Down, Don’t Stress
Take a deep breath or two, exhaling slowly, and relax yourself. There is no need to let heavy rain and wind cause you stress as you safely navigate to your destination. Stress cannot take charge. A slow approach will help negate that.
Increase Following Distance
Once water hits the road and mixes with the oils in the asphalt, it creates a slick surface that requires extra braking distance. Plus, wet brakes need more time to work. Allow extra distance between you and the car ahead of you, at least five car lengths on the highway. If someone cuts in between, back off to allow for more distance.
When You Can’t See, Pull Over
If visibility has become so poor that you cannot see more than a few feet ahead, do the safest thing you can do: Put on your hazards and pull to the side of the road. Wait out the storm. There is nothing to gain by driving ahead in blind conditions. Other drivers cannot see, either. Hanging out roadside is far better than the alternative.
SUVs Aren’t Invulnerable
Don’t fall into the mindset that driving an SUV automatically makes you impervious to treacherous conditions, thanks to all-wheel or four-wheel drive. It doesn’t. These drive configurations are great when pushing through snow and slippery conditions, but they are just as susceptible to accidents as any other vehicle on the road during a heavy storm.
Turn on Your Headlights
If your car doesn’t have automatic headlights, make sure you turn them on at the first sign of rain. They both help with your visibility and make you visible to other drivers.
Ease Out of Hydroplaning
Hydroplaning occurs when your tires temporarily lose contact with the road surface due to the amount of water on it. When this occurs, stay calm and do not make any sudden movements. Take your foot off the gas and hold the steering wheel in the direction you need to go. You will feel your tires regain their grip.
Drive Around Flash Flooding
If a rainstorm is heavy enough to produce flash flooding, take caution by not driving through pooled water over the road. You don’t know how deep it is and you certainly don’t want the water entering the car’s cabin or engine block.
Creating large sheets of splashing water from puddles is fun, but that practice is best left for when you are the only driver on the road. As a courtesy and for safety, don’t splash other drivers. A heavy sheet of dirty water across the windshield is distracting and annoying on the highway, and it takes a few seconds to recover.
These tips are rooted in common sense and courtesy with some technicalities where applicable. Always remember when driving in any type of inclement weather, the key is to stay calm and cool.
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