Monday, August 8, 2016
Driving in a Downpour: Practical Rainy Day Driving Tips
The rainy season is definitely back once again. While rainy days can be a refreshing respite from the heat, these can mean heavy traffic, flooded roads, poor visibility, and difficult driving conditions.
Driving in rainy weather can indeed be difficult, but making it all the more challenging are the numerous choices that motorists have to make while driving on a wet and slippery road. Do you take the main road or the side streets? Do you brave that flooded road or wait for the water to subside? Is it better to leave work during rush hour or wait a little later to avoid traffic?
In times like this, making good choices is key to getting to your destination safely and with the least delays.
Here are some tips you should remember while on the road during rainy days:
Plan your route. Know which roads are prone to floods. Take alternate routes during a downpour. Check online bulletins on road conditions before leaving for your destination and listen to the radio to monitor for real-time updates. Mobile applications, such as Waze or Twitter can help.
Keep your distance. Remember it can take up to 13 meters to stop a regular car running at 48 km/h, and even more if the road is slippery. Maintain a reasonable driving distance and increase that space when going at higher speeds. At all times, maintain a three-second gap from the vehicle ahead, no matter what speed. Increase the gap accordingly based on weather conditions.
Use your emergency hazard light only when necessary. Contrary to common practice, turn on your hazard light only when your vehicle has stopped. Hazard lights signal to other drivers that there is a stalled car. Using your hazard light while on the move will confuse other motorists and may cause accidents. If you care about being visible during a downpour, turn on your headlights.
Signal early. Where practical, use signal lights for at least 30 meters before commencing to turn or change lanes to tell other road users what you will do. This is particularly necessary during rainy days.
Slow down if visibility if poor because of rain. Try shifting your gaze slightly away from oncoming headlights and adjust your rear view mirror to reduce glare from behind.
Don’t attempt to cross running water. Real life isn’t an SUV commercial. If the force of water is greater than the weight of your vehicle, you can be in a lot of trouble. Crossing a puddle at high speed can also cause you to hydroplane. And even if your car has all-wheel drive, it won’t help in these cases.
Don’t use cruise control. If your car is equipped with cruise control, don’t use it in heavy downpour. Cruise control makes you less vigilant and sometimes causes you to take your foot away from the pedals. Not a great idea if reaction time is important.
Finally, keep your vehicle in good shape. The importance of car maintenance cannot be overemphasized, especially during the rainy season. Ensure that your lights, wipers, tires, brakes and the like are in working order. Also, make sure not to forget your car’s periodic maintenance and tune ups.
In a perfect world, rainy days would find us hanging out at the local coffeehouse or holed up at home. Reality being what it is means you still have to go to work even if it’s raining cats and dogs. Taking a few precautions and following these rainy day driving tips will keep you from ending up sopping wet on the road, waiting for a tow truck. Or worse.