Wet Roadways are Dangerous
Rain is good, especially in the desert right? Rain provides us with drinking water, helps water our plants, keeps us cool in hot temperatures, and helps fill our reservoirs. Of course there are times when we don’t like the rain for instance on a special event or just after you’ve washed your car. However many would agree, perhaps the worst part about rain is when you have to drive in it. It’s no fun. In fact, driving in the rain can be quite dangerous.
Why is it so Hazardous to Drive in the Rain?
When the roadways get wet, the water mixes with dirt, oil and other debris on asphalt, causing your tires to lose traction. In general, rain makes everything slippery. As the rain collects forming puddles and flooding in areas, that can also be dangerous as it can lead to hydroplaning. Apart from what the rain does to the road and to your car, the actual rainfall itself can make it difficult to see.
Tips for Driving Safely in the Rain
The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) and I Drive Safely offer some rainy day driving tips.
It’s a good idea to keep these tips in mind the next time you need to drive on a rainy day:
1) Stay Off Wet Roads if You Can
It’s ideal not to travel in heavy rain if you can avoid it. If you can stay safely at home or off the roads in a rainstorm, then that’s always best. Clearly this isn’t always possible. So if you must drive in rainy weather then be sure you plan ahead. Give yourself plenty of time for your drive because traffic is slower on the road when it rains and leave extra early to safely reach your destination.
2) Buckle Up, Use Headlights and Wipers
There are seat belt laws in Nevada, so you should always be wearing one but make an extra effort on rainy days to buckle up, even if only going a short distance. You should also use your car headlights, whether it’s just drizzling a little or pouring, as it helps you to see the road better. Having your headlights on also allows other drivers to see you. However, don’t use your high-beam headlights. This actually makes things worse. The light from the high-beams will reflect back at you off the water in the air, making it even more difficult for you to see. Lastly, also by Nevada law, wipers must be on while driving in rain or snow.
3) Careful When Braking
Brake earlier and with less force, and turn slower, than you would in normal driving conditions. Never slam on the brakes! When roads are slippery, you can slide more if you brake too hard and too fast. If your vehicle begins to skid, steer in direction of slide and slowly remove foot from accelerator. When breaking in vehicles with anti-lock brakes (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brakes and in non-ABS vehicles you should pump the brakes if you can. It’s best to keep plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you to avoid any the need for slamming on the brakes. You may recall on your driver’s test that in ideal conditions the following distance is 3 seconds but in rainy weather conditions, it’s 4 seconds. So keep 4-Mississippi’s from the car in front of you.
4) Turn Off Cruise Control
Cruise control can actually become problematic when it’s raining. It can lead to hydroplaning. If your car hydroplanes while the cruise control is set, your car may actually accelerate—which is certainly not something you want in the event of hydroplaning.
5) Avoid Puddles Whenever Possible
Steer clear of flooded areas and large puddles whenever possible. In the event you must drive through one, be sure to slow down. If not, you risk hydroplaning and losing control of your car. In addition, never attempt to cross running or flooded water. When you pass through deep water, it could get water in your brakes and create problems to your car’s engine.
6) Be Extra Careful After The First Rain
When rain comes after a long period of dryness, there’s even more need to be cautious on the road. Long periods without rain means that engine oil and dirt have had time to build up on streets. Add rainwater to the mix and you have very slippery roadways. The initial few hours during that “first rain” are the most hazardous. Eventually, the rain washes away the dirt and oil buildup on the streets but be careful up until that point.
Remember these rainy day driving tips during inclement weather. Be prepared and help keep yourself and others safe on the roads in Nevada.