Dancing in the rain sounds fun, right? However driving in the rain, that’s a completely different story. For some drivers, rainy conditions can be stressful, and difficult to drive in. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are around 707,000 automobile crashes each year due to rain, resulting in approximately 3,300 deaths and 330,200 injuries. Luckily, being behind the wheel during a downpour doesn’t have to be a nerve-racking, terrifying experience. Here are five tips to help you conquer the obstacle of driving during a rain shower, and arrive at your destination safely.
1. Check your windshield wiper blades for cracks or frays.
When it comes to driving in rain, there is nothing more important than having a good set of wiper blades. Windshield wiper blades are not meant to last forever. Most experts believe they should be changed at least twice a year or every 6,000 miles. But studies have shown that the average motorist changes his or her wiper blades just once every two or three years. As a result, many drivers are using blades that are cracked or frayed and not able to properly clear rain from the windshield.
2. Turn on those headlights.
It’s the law in all states to turn headlights on when visibility is low, and many states also require having the headlights on when the windshield wipers are in use.
3. Beware of hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning is the technical term for what occurs when your tires are getting more traction on the layer of water on the road than on the road itself—the result is that your car begins to slide uncontrollably. It’s easy enough to hydroplane: All you need is one-twelfth of an inch of rain on the road and a speed of more than 35 miles per hour. If you start to hydroplane, let off the accelerator slowly and steer straight until you regain control.
4. Turn off cruise control.
Ironically, on rain- or snow-slick surfaces, cruise control may cause you to lose control. You might think it’ll help you stay at one steady speed, but if you hydroplane while you’re in cruise control, your car will actually go faster.
5. Slow down.
Speed limit signs are designed for ideal conditions, and that means driving when you have little traffic and good visibility. That’s hardly the environment you’re driving in when it’s raining, so let up on the accelerator and allow more time to get to your destination.