Driving in rain, whether pouring or sprinkling, can be dangerous. Yet, many people don’t change their driving habits to match the road conditions or follow some basic common sense safety measures. Knowing the best habits for driving safely in the rain is crucial for every driver, especially in Florida during these rainy summer months.
Nearly 556,000 crashes each year are due to rain, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Roads can become slick, and tires can lose traction even from a light rain shower. If you live in Southwest Florida, you know from about June to September we get rain almost daily.
Tips for driving safely in the rain
Regardless of rain intensity or whether you are driving on the highway or in a neighborhood, here are a few tips for driving safely in the rain.
- If it’s a hard rain, bad storm or extremely windy, don’t drive until the weather improves
- Turn your windshield wipers and headlights on immediately when rain begins
- Slow down
- Keep a safe distance from the car in front of you
- Avoid heavy breaking
- Avoid large puddles
- If you hydroplane, turn the wheel in the direction you are going
- Don’t use cruise control
- Drive in another vehicle’s tracks
Regular maintenance on your car can help keep you safe, too. Make sure your windshield wipers are working properly. Check your headlights, break lights and other lights so other drivers will be able to see you. Make sure your tires aren’t too worn and they have the right amount of air.
It’s also important to know the traffic laws where you live — or where you are driving. For example, in Florida you need to have your headlights on when it’s raining. The way some people remember it is by saying when your windshield wipers are on, your headlights need to be on. Many newer model cars have headlights and windshield wipers that come on automatically.
A change in Florida law last year now allows driving with hazard lights on when conditions create “extreme low visibility” on roads with speed limits at or above 55 mph. Low visibility could be caused by rain, smoke or fog.
Driving in the rain is inevitable. While you may be driving safely, another car on the road may not be. Remember to keep an eye out and drive cautiously.