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Dangers of Driving in the Rain

While the change of season from winter's chill to the vibrant colors of spring may be a welcome change, springtime also welcomes in a new set of driving hazards that can lead to auto accidents, including hazardous weather conditions like rain. Rain showers are a hallmark of spring, and with them comes a significant increase in road dangers, such as:

  • Reduced visibility. Rain creates a curtain of water that can significantly reduce your ability to see the road ahead. Raindrops on your windshield can blur your vision, and headlights from oncoming traffic can create a glare effect. This limited visibility makes it harder to spot potential hazards like sudden stops, merging vehicles, or pedestrians.
  • Slippery roads. As the first drops hit the pavement, they mix with oil residue and dust that has accumulated over dry spells. This creates a slick, greasy film that makes it easier to lose traction. Braking distances are extended, and sharp turns can lead to skidding.
  • Hydroplaning. If you hit a deep puddle at high speed, your tires can lose contact with the road entirely. This phenomenon, known as hydroplaning, causes you to lose control of the vehicle and can lead to a dangerous spinout.
  • Pothole-related issues. Rain plays a double role when it comes to potholes. While wet pavement itself is a hazard, springtime showers can also expose and worsen potholes. Water seepage through cracks in the asphalt expands with freeze-thaw cycles, creating those dreaded potholes. Then, when rain fills these gaps, they become hidden dangers – a car can hit a deep pothole unexpectedly, causing damage and potentially losing control. The second way rain can pose a threat when it comes to potholes is that pooled water can sometimes conceal potholes from drivers.

Spring showers might be refreshing, but they demand a shift in your driving habits because of these potential dangers.

Safety Tips for Driving in the Rain

Rain can turn even a familiar route into a hazardous one. By taking some simple precautions and adjusting your driving habits, you can navigate wet roads safely. Below, we discuss what you can do to stay safe in wet weather conditions.

Be Prepared

Before you hit the road, you should check your:

  • windshield wipers,
  • headlights,
  • taillights,
  • turn signals,
  • tire pressure, and
  • tire treads.

Why is it important to check each of these items?

  • Worn or damaged wiper blades will streak and smear rain across your windshield, significantly reducing your visibility. This is especially dangerous when you need to react quickly to changing road conditions.
  • Ensuring all your lights (i.e. headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals) are functioning properly helps you see where you're going and alerts other drivers to your presence and maneuvers. As we mentioned, rain reduces overall visibility for everyone on the road; properly functioning lights help mitigate risks associated with visibility issues.
  • Underinflated tires have less contact with the road, which means less grip. This can lead to hydroplaning. However, proper tire pressure helps maintain control of your vehicle.
  • Worn tread depth reduces a tire's ability to channel water away from the contact patch, again increasing the risk of hydroplaning. Tires with good tread depth can grip the wet road better, giving you more control.

Adjust Your Driving

One of the best ways to stay safe when it’s raining is to consider waiting for the weather to improve. However, if you cannot delay your trip, you should take the following precautions when driving in the rain:

  • Slow down. Stopping distances are significantly increased on wet pavement. Reduce your speed by at least a third compared to dry conditions.
  • Increase your following distance. Double or even triple the following distance you normally maintain to give yourself ample room to stop safely.
  • Avoid sudden movements. Accelerate, brake, and turn gently to avoid losing traction.
  • Use your low beams. Rain can reduce visibility for yourself and other drivers. Turn on your low beams to see and be seen more clearly.
  • Avoid hydroplaning. Be wary of large puddles and standing water. If you feel your car lose traction, stay calm and take your foot off the gas. Then, steer in the direction you want to go until you regain control.
  • Don't use cruise control. Cruise control is best used when you are driving in non-hazardous conditions and for a long distance. If it’s raining, you should avoid using this feature because cruise control can increase your risk of losing control of your vehicle and can lead to hydroplaning.

Take Extra Precautions at Night

Nighttime rain creates an even greater challenge. Be extra cautious and reduce your speed even further. If visibility is severely limited (due to the rain and a lack of street lights), consider pulling over to a safe location and waiting for the rain to subside or for conditions to improve. Remember, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident? Contact Us!

While drivers cannot control the weather, they do control themselves and their vehicles. If a driver or motorcyclist acts recklessly or negligently and causes your accident, we can help you establish liability, calculate your non-economic and economic damages, and feel confident in moving forward with your claim.

Call (860) 854-9156 to request a consultation and get started on your case.

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