Driving in the rain

Drive in rain
Drive in rain
© blog.carlist.my

Statistics are cruel. Rain is the main cause of weather related crashes in the United States. According to the data from the Federal Highway Administration it is responsible for nearly 30 percent of all vehicle crashes. Annually it kills almost nine thousand and injures over eight hundred thousand people.

The golden rule says that we should always adjust our speed to the road conditions. Simple and effective. Yet some people seem to “know it better”. So let’s reiterate: The road friction coefficient significantly drops when the surface is wet. This means smaller friction force and as a result we need longer distance to stop your car. You can have good car, world class tires, and sophisticated electronic systems. You can be a very good driver. You can have a lot of luck. But you cannot change the basic rules of physics. Therefore you cannot ignore the fact that rain introduces risk. The risk that you have to address.

It is worth mentioning here that the road becomes especially slippery during the initial phase of the rain. This is because of the rain mixing with various things on the road, like for instance some oil or dust and creating a very slippery layer. Therefore it is generally recommended that drivers are extremely careful during the first 30 minutes from the moment when the rain starts.

Breaking in rain

What is of critical importance is to know how to apply brakes in such conditions. The general rule is to ‘pump’ them. Especially if we don’t have supporting electronic systems like ABS. Note also that all the electronics, although very helpful will not replace the driver. What is important is that our knowledge how to act on the slippery road is not only theoretical but also practical. It is a good practice to be constantly improving out driving skills in a controlled environment.

Probably one the most dangerous things while driving in the rain is so called aquaplaning. This is the effect caused by the water gathering between the surface of the road and the tire quicker than it can be taken away by the tread. As a consequence we are losing the control over the car. What should we do if we find ourselves in such a difficult situation? First of all, as usual: don’t panic. Stay calm. Don’t do any quick maneuvers with the driving wheel. Neither speed up nor brake. The car is outside of control. Let the car lose some of the speed by itself until the control is back. Obviously, prevention is always best.

How to avoid aquaplaning and slipping

According to experts the most important factor that can help avoid the aquaplaning is the proper tire pressure. Good quality tires in a good state are simply a must. They also need to be checked regularly. The pressure should be controlled at least once a month. Remember that the value provided on the side part of tire is the maximal pressure, not the optimal one. The latter can be found in the car manual.

What seems to be ignored all-too-often is that the road is not the only surface that gets wet and slippery during the rain. So do the bottom part of our shoes and our hands. Don’t forget to wipe them carefully before you start off since a good grip of the driving wheel as well as good contact between your shoes and the pedals are very important when safety is concerned.

Another thing to remember is that having run through the deep water, where there is a risk that the brakes could get wet, one should dry them by applying them softly.

Special care should be also given to the rails or any other metal elements. They will be extremely slippery and dangerous during the rain. What can also be dangerous are any signs painted on the road – avoid them as well.

Visibility in heavy rain
Visibility in heavy rain

Driving in the rain and visibility

The next thing seriously impacted during the precipitation is the visibility. How to deal with it? First of all: slow down. We mentioned it already but this is really important. Secondly, we need to maintain a proper distance from the car in front of us. The minimal distance is the length of the car multiplied by two. Lastly, if the rain is really hard, we should pull over. When possible at the car parking. If not possible then even on the road berm leaving the lights on.

Driving a motorcycle in rain

As one can see, when it is raining, driving a car safely is really difficult. What is even more difficult is driving a motorcycle in such conditions. When you are a motorcyclist you must also keep in mind things not mentioned above. Most importantly proper clothes. You cannot feel wet and/or cold. And note that this is not only about your comfort. It is more about the fact that when you are not comfortable you will not be able to focus your attention fully on the road and this is always dangerous. To avoid it, it is generally advised to stop regularly in some bar, restaurant or gas station to warm oneself and drink and/or eat something hot.

Rain cause damage to car

Drive through the puddle
Drive through the puddle
© PA

Another thing which is worth mentioning here is that even without the accident, the rain can still cause damage to our car. As an example: the catalyzer. Large quantity of water flowing against its cover will cause the significant drop of the temperature in the core. In the extreme cases this can lead even to the brakeage of the core, especially in case of the older models.

If you want to avoid issues with the car and the associated repair cost you should never run through the puddles. Many divers, especially the fresh ones (not to use less polite words) seem to love it since it sometimes looks quite extraordinary. Don’t do it though since it is neither good for the car nor safe. The pedestrians will also be grateful.

The final piece of advice is: be patient. Rain usually means slower traffic flow. So you are likely to stuck somewhere in a traffic jam and/or be don’t get on time to your destination. Simply accept it. Don’t get irritated. It is never good. If you feel that your nerves are getting out of control – count slowly to ten or think about the old good song – “I’m singing in the rain”. It always puts me in the good mood. Try by yourself.

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