Friday, September 7, 2012

Using Your Brain in the Rain: 5 Driving Tips


Raindrops car windshield Hydolicious Flickr

Ask anyone who lives in your home town about people and driving in the rain. They'll give you the same response- traffic slows down like crazy whenever there's a few drops on the road.

Do we really need to be driving that slow? Probably not in a situation like that. Now, if you can't see a thing because it's raining so hard, that's a different story entirely! I thought about how driving in the rain compares to that of snow or ice, and while both are similar, there is one key way in which they differ. You're likely to have less control in the winter, whereas with rain, you'll have less visibility (depending on how hard it is raining). This means as the intensity of the rain grows, you'll want to slow down more.

That being said, here are some safety tips you can be aware of to prepare you and your car for stormy weather.

1. Try to stay in the center lane if there's a lot of rain already on the ground.
Rain accumulates on the sides of the road, and you'll want to minimize your chances of hitting a large puddle of water. Since water reduces friction and causes hydroplaning (where one or all of the tires loses traction), it is best to stay in the center lane if you're driving down a long stretch of highway or road at higher speeds.

2. Consider replacing your windshield wipers.
Just like any other part on your car, your wiper blades can go bad, and if they go bad, your visibility in any sort of storm is going to be awful. How long do they last? It depends entirely on where you live, and the intensity of the weather your car endures. As a general rule of thumb though, it's a good idea to consider changing them at least every few years, especially if you notice the wipers causing streaks on your windshield more often than not.

3. Distance yourself.
Tailgating is never a great idea, and it only becomes more dangerous in the rain. You'll want to give yourself plenty of room between you and the other car in front of you, more so if it's a larger vehicle such as a bus or truck. That way, when you need to hit the brakes, you've got a buffer of both space and time, so that your brakes can do their job. Remember, wet brake pads aren't nearly as powerful as dry ones! Be sure to have them inspected as well, if you suspect they aren't performing as good as they should be.

4. But align yourself, too.
Besides keeping a buffer of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, you should also align your car and tires with theirs. What does this accomplish? The car in front of you is displacing the water on the road, pushing it away from the point where the tires hit. This in turn makes the surface of the ground better for your car, as you drive through the spot where the water was displaced. Gotta love science!

5. Turn all the lights on!
Whether it's raining or just really foggy, having your headlights on will improve your visibility and help other drivers on the road see you better. 



Do you have any other suggestions or tips for driving in the rain? Tell us below!


3 comments:

  1. I agree with most of your tips I have some additional tips keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to avoid having to brake suddenly on a slippery surface.

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  2. Thanks for your comment! It's always good to have more of a buffer of space when the weather isn't perfect out.

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