Cars allow us to be able to get to our destinations in a fraction of time otherwise, and safely in adverse weather as well. In stormy conditions however, being able to operate a motor vehicle can be a challenging task with decreased visibility and risk of losing control of your car. With the following tips, you can help better ensure that you are prepared to engage storms and arrive at your destination safely.
Keep a Healthy Car
Staying up on maintenance will both save you money and also delay potentially costly repairs that will be necessary eventually. The easiest to check and most important for rainy weather are your windshield wipers and tires. Winner VW (Dover, DE) insists that worn-out windshield wipers are a big one. They can leave streaks of water still on the windshield which reduces visibility substantially on the road; the good news is that they are a quick and easy replacement you can do yourself! Deep, healthy tire treads (slits carved into the rubber) are engineered to displace water to allow the rest of the tire to directly contact the pavement and give you traction. Talk to your local dealer or mechanic to get your car in top shape to handle storms.
Gauge the Storm Severity
Knowing what you are about to drive into before you hit the pavement is a crucial first step in staying safe during rainstorms. Specifically, you want to look for the volume of water that is accumulating across the entire route; if there are areas that have flooding or accidents reported, you might want to consider changing up your route. Being able to safely arrive at your destination is also your number one priority if conditions make it too difficult to have clear visibility on the road or traffic in general, strongly consider waiting out the storm or taking a rain-check.
Stay Alert and in Control
Storms cause lower visibility and adverse roadway conditions, which can cause you to lose traction and give you less time to react. Activating your headlights and wipers the moment precipitation begins to fall will help increase the visibility of you and other drivers. Driving at reduced speeds in rainy conditions does two things for you; it allows you more time to react, which is important in low visibility situations and allows your tires more time to do their work with displacing water and establishing traction with the road. Leaving more room between you and the car in front will give you more time to react and buy you additional time in case you lose traction while trying to brake. If you have cruise control activated, turn it off before entering wet and rainy conditions to help you gain control.
How to Handle Hydroplaning
The best way to mitigate hydroplaning is to avoid it altogether. Try to steer clear of oil stains, large build ups of water on the road, and conditions of running water; it only takes 1/12 of an inch of rain on the road to be able to cause hydroplaning. The moment you start to hydroplane, the car’s tires have no contact with the pavement causing the water to slide you around. If you start to hydroplane, lift your foot off the gas pedal slowly and do not engage the brakes; figure out which portion of your car is sliding. If the rear of your vehicle is sliding, gently turn into the direction your back is swinging in to help straighten the car out. If the front of the car is sliding (more evident), very gently turn against the direction you are sliding in to help straighten out the vehicle. This is known as turning into the slide, which will help you gradually straighten your car as you regain traction; overcorrecting can cause a spin-out or overturn.
Driving through stormy weather can be a difficult task, but taking some preparation and taking in these extra safety tips can make the trek more manageable and safer. Remember that avoiding driving in adverse weather conditions is the safest solution and keeping your car in good condition will help prevent accidents and breakdowns.