The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) estimates that over 1,230,000 accidents happen due to bad weather every year. Of these, 46 percent of them occur during rainfall.
That is why it is advisable to cancel your trip or wait until the conditions improve when confronted with heavy rains. But sometimes the rain can catch you unawares. Knowing what to do in such a situation can help you stay out of danger.
Rain brings visibility problems due to the water spattering on the windshield and the rain itself. Poor visibility means that you have to drive at a speed slower than the posted limit to allow you enough time to react when the unexpected happens, such as when the car in front of you stalls or there is debris on the road. You may also want to consider keeping your fog lights on to help increase visibility and also ensure that other cars on the road can see you.
Visibility is not the only reason you need to drive at a low speed. When the rain wets the road, the vehicle’s tire traction can be significantly compromised, resulting in your car sliding uncontrollably. When this happens at high speed, the chances of running into other vehicles can be extremely high.
Maintain A Safe Following Distance
With low visibility and reduced traction, it is important to ensure that you maintain a safe following distance from the car in front of you. The NHTSA recommends leaving a three-second stopping distance in normal conditions.
However, when the road is icy or just wet, it is recommended to double your following distance. Having a wider stopping distance compensates for the slippery state of the road to ensure that the vehicle stops in time to avoid a collision.
Take Control of the Situation
While driver-assist systems like cruise control are a great addition to your vehicle’s capabilities, using it on a rainy drive may not be a good idea. Instead, you need to take complete control of your vehicle, both hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and avoid any distraction.
The rainwater may create puddles in spots where the road surface is not even. Unless you are familiar with the road and are sure that the puddle poses no danger, it is always advised to drive around the puddle to avoid damaging your car’s electrical system. Additionally, puddles may be hiding some other dangers like a porthole, which could potentially knock the suspension of your vehicle out of alignment or even get you stuck.
Buses, trucks, and other larger vehicles can make a splash big enough to worsen bad visibility. If you are driving next to one, ensure that you give them the widest distance possible. If you must overtake, ensure that you do so at the safest zone possible and at a safe speed.
Get Off the Road
If you feel that the conditions are too bad to drive, find a safe place to pull off and wait out the rain. “The best and safest place would be to pull up to a rest area or a parking lot. This is much safer than sitting alongside the road,” says Chad E. Jones, a Midland personal injury attorney. Delayed arrival is nothing compared to the risk of an accident.