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When it's raining cats and dogs

Car headlights reflecting off a wet driveway

Unfortunately, that old nursery rhyme, "Rain, rain, go away; Come again some other day" rarely works, which is why there are over 5,760,000 vehicle crashes each year in the U.S. on average. Not surprising that weather, including wet pavement and rain fall, contribute to over 1.2 million of them. Getting pelted with the elements will always be inevitable, but knowing how to safely maneuver the wet pavement is important to any driver. An alarming statistic from the U.S. Department of Transportation1 states that 73% of accidents occur on wet pavement, and 46% during rainfall. So, whether you safely maneuver the terrain or you begin to hydroplane, Foremost wants to prepare you for any situation with these important must-reads:

Getting Your Car Rain-Ready

Check your tire treads before tackling the roads. Low tire treads don't grip the road as well as fully functional tires, so consider using the penny test to effectively diagnose your tire's health. If you can see Lincoln's head, drive on over to the auto shop! If not, you're good to go.

Maneuvering Wet Pavement

  • Avoid cruise control, which increases your chance of losing control of the vehicle.
  • Reduce speed by at least 15%. If the speed limit is 45, drive at around 35–38 mph to diminish risk of hydroplaning [tires rising up onto a layer of water], if not lower.
  • Avoid hard breaking to give your vehicle a longer opportunity to slow down.
  • Increase following distance between cars so stopping and slowing down are less of a surprise and necessary reaction times stay reasonable.
  • Keep headlights on, but do not use high beams. Even during the daytime, keep headlights on so oncoming traffic can see you, but do not blind them with your high beams.
  • Don't drive through a river! If you see a deep and flowing body of water growing on the pavement, avoid it and find a way to drive around it.

Ahh, I'm Hydroplaning!

Stay calm. Even experienced drivers can experience this kind of incident, so make sure not to panic. Continue to move in the direction in which your car is pulling and avoiding hitting the brakes as much as possible. De-accelerate slowly by lifting your foot from the gas petal, and shift into a lower gear if you can. If you still find your car skidding on the pavement, you may have to think about an exit plan. Try to steer into an area with low impact like an empty field, avoiding trees and telephone poles as much as you can.

When it's raining cats and dogs, it is unlikely that driving will be enjoyable. However, you can make sure you can handle the rain while driving and stay safe.

1. http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather/q1_roadimpact.htm



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