Spring showers can quickly turn into downpours, and that can mean dangerous road conditions for drivers. There are some 1,259,000 weather-related crashes every year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The vast majority of weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall — 73% on wet pavement and 46% during rainfall.
Experts say there are a number of steps drivers can take in order to ensure safety while driving in the rain.
Here are some things every driver should do to prepare for rain before they even get behind the wheel.
- Check windshield wipers: Make sure they are functioning properly and replace windshield wiper inserts that leave streaks.
- Check headlights, taillights and turn signals: Make sure your lights and signals are working well so that other drivers will be able to see you during downpours.
- Check tires: Proper tire tread depth and inflation is imperative for good traction on wet roads, so check tires regularly.
Once behind the wheel, experts offer the following advice for staying safe on wet roads, whether due to showers or heavy rain.
- Turn your headlights on: Even if it is raining during the day, make sure you turn on your headlights. Visibility is worse in rain, so you need all the light you can get to see ahead of you and to alert other drivers of your vehicle's presence.
- Slow down: Speeding is about the worst thing a driver can do on wet roads because braking takes longer when there is water on the road. Make sure you obey the speed limit and if there is a major downpour, do not be afraid to drive under the speed limit.
- Make smooth inputs: Avoid hard braking, stabbing the throttle or jolting the steering wheel while driving on wet roads. These kinds of harsh moves can easily knock your vehicle off balance and potentially cause an accident.
- Keep ample distance between your vehicle and others: Allow for a large following distance while driving in rainy weather as it will increase your visibility and the ability for you to safely stop suddenly if need be. If you are too close behind another vehicle, especially large trucks, water spray will come off the vehicle onto your windshield—temporarily blinding you.
- Stick to middle lanes: If you are driving on a freeway or highway, it is best to stay in the middle lane during rainfall. The side lanes often gather more water, which can increase the chance of hydroplaning and losing control of your vehicle.
To learn more about best practices for driving in the rain and on wet roads, watch this video from AAA.