If you dread getting behind the wheel when it’s raining outside, you are not alone. Oregon typically gets an abundance of rain throughout the autumn and winter months, and it can cause hazardous driving conditions. Not only are road surfaces wet and slick, but rainfall can limit your visibility. If you are not familiar with the area where you’re driving, the reduced visibility makes it even more difficult to safely handle your vehicle.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, wet or slick roadways play a role in over one million car accidents every year across the country. Knowing how to handle your vehicle on wet road surfaces is a key factor in keeping you and your passengers safe. Here are some techniques that can help you stay in control of your car and avoid accidents when driving on wet roads.
Safety starts before you hit the road. Before driving, be sure you are well-rested and clear-minded, but also inspect your vehicle to ensure it is ready for the journey. Examine your tires to confirm they have proper inflation and enough tread. Also, make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and clean your windshield in one swipe with no streaks.
Keep your distance
Increase your following distance and always leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. If you are traveling on a road with several lanes, try to keep an open space on either side of your vehicle so you have an outlet if something unpredictable happens. Also, studies recommend driving in the middle lane since water tends to accumulate more in the outside lanes.
Never use cruise control
If your vehicle loses traction in wet conditions, lifting your foot off the accelerator can slow your vehicle down enough to regain traction. But when cruise control is engaged, the vehicle will not respond until you press the brake. This could cause you to lose total control of your vehicle. Never use cruise control when driving on wet surfaces.
The best way to stay safe when driving on wet roads is to slow down. At just 35 miles per hour, your tires can lose traction and cause your car to hydroplane. In a hydroplane, your tires are no longer in contact with the road surface, so no matter which way you turn the steering wheel, your vehicle will not respond. Your vehicle’s reaction time is slower in slick conditions, so slowing down will help you avoid skidding or hydroplaning.
Getting help after an accident
Unfortunately, there will always be individuals who drive distracted, recklessly or just are not as careful as they should be behind the wheel. Even if you drive defensively and do everything right, you could still end up in a car accident. Fortunately, there is help available for those injured in accidents caused by negligent drivers.