The spring season often brings rain showers and storms to southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio. For most drivers, a little bit of gentle rain is no cause for concern. However, heavy downpours can cause dangerous driving conditions for even the most experienced drivers.
Recent U.S. Department of Transportation estimates indicate more than 700,000 automobile crashes happen as a result of dangerous driving conditions caused by rain each year. To help you avoid being included in this unfortunate number, we’ve compiled the following tips to help you handle the hazards you may face when driving in the rain.
- Be wary of wet weather – Rain may slip “under the radar”—so to speak— for drivers who believe that ice and snow cause much more hazardous driving conditions. However, driving in the rain can be dangerous in its own right. Moisture (in any form) makes roads more slippery and rain in particular can reduce your visibility both as it is falling, and when it is thrown into your line of vision by other vehicles driving through puddles on the road. Bottom line—consider rain a threat just as serious as winter precipitation and modify your driving habits accordingly.
- Heed headlight laws. The law in all states requires drivers to turn their headlights on when visibility is low. In Michigan, headlights must be turned on 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise and at any other time when visibility is reduced to under 500 feet, including during inclement weather. In addition to making sure your headlights are always in good working order, you should ensure that your windshield wipers and your tires are in good shape to help you drive safely in the rain.
- Take it slow. While this seems like common sense, many drivers do not reduce their speed on wet roads in the same way they might in icy or snowy conditions. This is a dangerous practice since your tires can perform differently just as easily on wet pavement —which can cause hydroplaning, which is covered in our next tip.
- Know what to do if you are hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is the technical term for what occurs when your tires get more traction on the water that is covering the road than on the road itself. This can cause your car to slide uncontrollably. Hydroplaning isn’t something that happens only during torrential rainstorms—it is important to know that it can happen even in moderate rain events and when your driving speed is relatively low. If you do start to hydroplane when you are driving in the rain, slowly take your foot off the accelerator and steer straight until you have control of your car again.
- Cut the cruise control. While cruise control can help you drive at a consistent speed, it can actually be an impediment when you are trying to navigate roads affected by snow, ice, and rain. Cruise control can be a contributing factor to collisions that occur in wet weather because if you do hydroplane while you’re using it, it will make your car go faster and you may be unable to regain control as quickly as you would without it.
- Drive safely in the rain all year long
April showers can certainly impact your ability to drive safely during the spring, but unpredictable weather can happen year-round. We encourage you to remember these tips any time you need to drive in the rain. In addition, if you have any questions about how to reduce your risk with automobile insurance, feel free to contact us—our professional insurance agents would be happy to talk to you.
About the Author:
Nicole Pearson, of Tecumseh, is a Customer Service Representative for Kemner Iott Benz. Nicole enjoys a good read, photography, being outdoors, and an occasional fishing trip with her husband, Trevor.