They say into each life a little rain must fall, and that couldn’t be more true for drivers on the road as the seasons change and autumn solidifies its foothold in Grand Rapids. With the likelihood of rainfall increasing in the months to come, so also does the chance you’ll have to face it when you’re behind the wheel. Whether you’re the type of driver who cringes with anxiety over the task of driving in inclement weather or the person who feels no less confident in their ability to handle the situation when precipitation makes the task more difficult, we recommend these tips for driving in the rain.
Hydroplaning is most often referred to as sliding or skidding on the road and happens when the tire on the road loses traction due to a wet surface. While hydroplaning can occur anytime a vehicle encounters water on the road, the likelihood of it occurring increases within the first 10 minutes of a rainfall, due to the rainfall mixing with oil residue on the road creating a slippery surface.
To avoid hydroplaning, it’s important to keep your tires properly inflated to increase traction on the road and avoid standing water when at all possible. In addition, slowing the speed of your vehicle down and avoid hard turns.
One important factor in avoiding hydroplaning is slowing down. Regardless if your vehicle is an All Wheel Drive SUV, 4×4 Pickup Truck, a Front Wheel Drive Minivan or Car, the fact remains that the while the road conditions deteriorate so does your ability to see, react to objects in your roadway and your ability to stop. Slowing the speed of your vehicle is one way to give yourself an edge while behind the wheel and help you to avoid an accident.
Turn On Headlights
As visibility becomes more difficult, it’s important to do everything you can to help increase it. Turning on your headlights does exactly that and helps other drivers see your vehicle faster. In some states it’s required of drivers by law, as is the case in Michigan where drivers are required to use their headlights from sunset to sunrise, when it’s raining, snowing, hailing or sleeting and also when you can not see 500 feet in front of your vehicle.
Keep Headlights Bright
Headlights can’t do much good with illumination if they aren’t in good working order. Be sure to check that your headlights, tailgates and brake lights are all in good working order and that they are bright. Not all lights are equal so if yours are not illuminating the way they should, consider replacing them with a different kind that fits your vehicle. And don’t forget to give them a little TLC by giving them a thorough washing using toothpaste on a rag, adding water and toothpaste as needed.
Clean Windshield Wipers
Your windshield wipers have one job and that is to keep your windshield clear of rain and debris. But if your wiper blades are dirty, they are not able to do that and can create streaks. Clean off excess oil and grime by wiping the blades with a non-abrasive glass cleaner with a rag or towel. To ensure your wiper blades are in great condition and ready for the road, replace old ones between 6 months to a year.
Don’t Use Cruise Control
It might seem that maintaining a constant speed while it’s raining, with the aid of cruise control, would be a safer option but the opposite is actually true. Cruise control can make a situation where your vehicle is hydroplaning worse by creating that consistent speed when it should be decelerating and worse yet, is disengaged by the application of the brakes quickly which is an action you want to avoid while in a slide or skid. Instead, maintain full control of your vehicle by accelerating and decelerating yourself. Not only will this help reduce the odds of hydroplaning, it will give you a better feel of the road beneath you in order to gauge the speed you should be traveling in order to maintain safety.
Create A Buffer
As mentioned above, rain on the road can reduce traction, making it harder to stop than on wet conditions. When road conditions are wet, they become slippery which increases the risk that your vehicle will slide. Avoid braking hard unnecessarily and give yourself plenty of space between your own vehicle and the one in front of you. It’s important to note that as speeds increase, so does the distance it takes to stop and should be factored in as well when road conditions worsen.
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