We are looking at a wet weekend here in Houston and the surrounding areas, so I thought it would be a good chance to offer some safe driving tips for rainy weather. As we all know driving in the rain can be a little bit scary especially in a city like Houston, where everyone drives. The chances of being involved in an accident are raised significantly in wet road conditions; however, with a little common sense and patience you can minimize the likelihood of being involved in an auto accident.
- 1: Concentrate on driving! While this seems like a simple concept, a surprising number of accidents are caused by a lack awareness and concentration. More times than not an accident can be avoided if a driver is paying attention to the road and the other drivers around them. Avoiding distractions like cell phones and changing the radio station will help drivers remain cognoscente of ever changing road conditions.
- 2: Drive with your headlights on! Driving with your headlights on can greatly increase the ability for other drivers to see you. This is even more important in rainy weather conditions where visibility is reduced and the ability to stop or swerve to avoid an accident is impeded.
- 3: Keep more distance between you and the car in front of you. Keeping a safe distance between you and the driver in front of you is one of the fundamental rules for safe driving. This is even more important when driving on wet roads. The general rule of thumb is a to keep two seconds between your car and the driver in front of you; however, in wet or rainy conditions this distance should be increased to three or four seconds.
- 4: Slow Down! You should remember that the posted speed limit is the maximium speed that should be driven in ideal driving conditions. Driving slower can greatly increase the amount of time that you have to stop or avoid a potential accident.
- 5: Be aware of the condition of your tires. Your ability to stop and the traction that you have with the road is directly dependent upon the condition of your tires. Tires with less tread have a lessened ability to channel water away from the road surface which reduces friction with the road. This can in turn hinder a driver’s ability to avoid an accident.
- 6: Avoid high water and flooded areas. Driving through deep water can cause catastrophic failure of your engine if water makes its way into your air intake. You should never attempt to drive through deep or moving water unless it is absolutely necessary. Flowing water can actually sweep your car off the roadway placing you in great danger.
- 7: Beware of hydroplaning! Hydroplaning is when your car actually travels across the surface of a pool or puddle of water. Hydroplaning causes the tires to completely or almost completely lose contact with the road surface allowing for almost no traction. If faced with a hydroplaning situation it is important to remain calm and not to make sudden movements. Letting of the accelerator and steering the vehicle straight or slightly in the direction of you would like to go is the best way to stay under control in a hydroplaning situation.
- 8: Use your defroster. Using the defroster in your vehicle can greatly increase your visibility. Houston drivers know all too well that hot and muggy outside conditions can quickly fog up the windows. Using the A/C while defrosting can reduce widow fog more quickly than using non air conditioned air.
- 9: Understand the effects of water on your brakes. Drum brakes are more susceptible to the affects of water; however, disc brakes may also have diminished stopping power in wet condition.
- 10: Avoid pooling water. Water that is pooling low areas like potholes or ruts can greatly increase the likelihood of hydroplaning. It is also important to be aware of areas of pooling water that the drivers around you may hit. This could cause them to hydroplane or splash water on your windshield causing you to lose the ability to see the road and vehicles in front of you.
Driving in inclement weather is always dangerous, but making an effort to be more conscientious of weather conditions and adapting to them can greatly increase your ability to navigate the road in any weather condition.