Now that the winter season has finally (dare we say it?) moved on, we can expect our precipitation to fall in liquid form rather than solid.
Driving safely in wet weather requires both the vehicle and the driver to be prepared.
Tires: These are critical, yet are easily the most underrated safety feature on your vehicle. Your tires should have plenty of tread depth to evacuate standing water from between the road surface and the tire. This will greatly reduce the chances of your vehicle hydroplaning. If you live in a region that experiences higher than average rainfall, some tire manufacturers build specialized rain tires such as Goodyear’s “Assurance Tripletred” which can give up to 21 per cent more wet weather grip than regular all-season tires. If your current tires are worn down to anywhere near the wear bars, it is time to replace and update your tires.
Your tire pressure should also be checked regularly to be sure they are within a safe operating pressure. Tire pressures that are too low are a danger and can lead to tire delamination.
Wiper blades: Your vehicle’s wiper blades should also be checked for age and wear. If they leave streaks across your windshield it’s time to replace these important safety items. Replacing your wiper blades every year is a cheap form of insurance.
Rain X, etc: I am not usually a believer in the aftermarket “miracle products” that we see advertised everywhere. There is one product I have tried and like. The windshield treatments like “Rain X” or “Rain Away” put a clear polish on the windshield glass and actually help rain to run off your windshield. This treatment lasts a couple of weeks and needs to be reapplied but it is worth the effort. At highway speeds, the rain will actually run off the windshield without the wipers.
Lights: Be sure all of your vehicle’s lights are in working order. Use the full headlight system and not just the Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) in wet weather. With only your DRLs in use, the rear taillights are not activated and on wet roads the spray off the road can hide your vehicle from view, increasing your chances of being struck from behind. Your full headlight system will also make you more visible to oncoming traffic on wet roads. Turn your lights ON. It is just as important to be seen and it is to see.
A/C: Keep your windows from fogging up by using the air conditioner to dehumidify the air inside your vehicle. If you do not have a/c, simply open the rear windows a crack to allow air to circulate inside your vehicle.
Slow down: On the driver side of the safety equation, slowing down on wet roads is crucial. A wet road surface will offer the driver about half of the grip available compared to a dry road surface. This means braking distances can double on wet roads and the ability to steer around an obstacle is greatly reduced. Slower speeds also greatly reduce the chances of hydroplaning.
Keep your distance: Stay further back from the vehicle in front of you. This is important not only because braking distances are longer on wet roads but because staying farthe back will take you out of the tire spray of the vehicle ahead, giving you much better visibility. This will also help keep your windshield clearer.
Look ahead: Look further up the road and always look to where you want to be going. Vision technique is paramount to safe driving and proper training can make all the difference.
Keep it smooth: Drive with smooth steering inputs. Jerky or rushed steering inputs can cause loss of control especially on rain slicked roads.
Anyone can drive fast. Smart drivers know when not to. Wet roads require slower speeds.
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