Five tips for driving safer in rain

Driving in the rain doesn’t have to be dangerous if you take a few precautionary steps.

Tune into any local radio traffic station after the first big rain of the season, and there will inevitably be reports of accidents all across the city. Avoid being a statistic by learning how to drive defensively in the wet.

Mind your speed

A big reason for losing control in rainy conditions is simply driving too fast. The amount of available grip drops dramatically when the roads become slick from a mixture of water and vehicle fluid runoff. Slowing down prevents water building up in the small channels of the tire tread, and provides more room between you and the car in front if you need to brake suddenly or make a last-minute steering manoeuvre.

Check your blades

You can’t drive safely if you can’t see. Before the rain falls, double check to see if your wipers can clear the windshield properly without squeaking or rubbing, and make sure the blades aren’t cracked or disintegrating. Replacements are inexpensive and most dealerships will help install them after purchase.

Light up

All too often I’ll be driving in the rain on a dark road, and notice the car in front of me just has his running lights on, or worse, no lights at all. Make it a habit to turn the headlights to the on position in inclement weather for a two-fold benefit: you will be able to see what’s in front of you better, and you’ll be more visible to other motorists.

Avoid puddles

While splashing through a miniature lake on the road sounds like a fun idea, you don’t know what’s beneath so go around if possible. Generally, avoid puddles unless they’re shallow enough that you can still see the asphalt at the bottom. If you must go through, drive slowly so water doesn’t potentially splash up into the engine bay and onto delicate and/or expensive parts.

Don’t cruise

Try and avoid using cruise control during stormy conditions — you want to be alert and ready to hit the brakes or gas pedal if something goes awry. If your tires hit a big puddle and begin to hydroplane (skim uncontrollable over the surface of the wet pavement), cruise control may cause the car to suddenly accelerate once the situation gets grippy again.

Posted by Benjamin Yong

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5. Twitter: @b_yong Instagram: @popuplights