Here are 11 defensive driving tips to keep in mind the next time you're out in the wet weather:
1. If you feel uneasy about driving your car in the rain, delay your trip or commute, and wait until the weather improves before heading out. There is no reason to put yourself at risk if driving in wet conditions is not essential.
2. Check that your car’s equipment is in working order before facing rainy weather. Check your headlights, windshield wipers, and tail lights, to make sure that they will work when they are needed. Also, check the tread of your vehicle’s tires. Balding tires can severely decrease traction on wet roads.
3. Slow down. Not only should you adhere to the speed limit when driving in slippery weather conditions, but you should also drive a lot slower than you usually would. Wet roads are very hazardous. Your vehicle’s response time is much slower when it is raining. Decreased speed is imperative in rainy weather.
4. Turn on your vehicles’ lights while driving in the rain. Even if it is only drizzling, turning on your vehicle’s headlights will increase both your own clarity and other drivers’ ability to see your car on the road.
5. Use your windshield wipers. Several U.S. states carry laws that say if your wipers are on, your headlights must be, too. While this may seem like common sense to some, drivers forget to turn on their windshield wipers in light mist. Most vehicles windshield wiper speed is adjustable to clear moisture from the glass in a light mist or a torrential downpour. There are also other products available that can be wiped or sprayed onto the glass that claims to defer the collection of rainwater.
6. Dry your brakes. Wet roads mean wet brakes, and the four-wheel discs on most cars can be coated with water just when you need them most. Some cars will automatically touch the pads to the rotors to scrub water, and add heat to the rotor to remove the water, but you can do this yourself by gently touching the brakes after splashing through a wet spot.
7. Keep a more considerable distance between your car and the car in front of you. Stopping your vehicle will be more challenging when driving in the rain. Maintain a gap of several car lengths between your car and other vehicle's.
8. Try to avoid sudden or heavy braking. Try to slow your vehicle by taking your foot off of the accelerator sooner than you usually would when preparing to slow down or stop.
9. Be on the lookout for standing water. Driving through standing water may cause your vehicle to hydroplane, or skid across the surface of the road. Avoid driving through places where water has collected by changing lanes or safely steering around such areas.
10. If your car does hydroplane, remain calm and gently take your foot off of the accelerator pedal and steer in the direction that the front of your car needs to go. Avoid slamming on your brakes or making sudden turns.
11. Rain causes humidity levels to rise. You may find that your car's windows become foggy while you drive. Most cars’ ventilation systems have a function that will work to lessen this type of fog that develops on the interior of your windshield and windows. It may even be necessary to pull over if you are no longer able to see through your windows.