Below are 10 tips for driving safely and defensively in the rain and severe weather.
1. Adhere to the three second rule – and more. Keep enough distance between you and the car in front of you so in the event of a slide, skid or the motorist behind you hits you, you can prevent hitting the vehicle in front of you. Also, refrain from following large trucks, semi’s or buses too closely since the splash created by larger tires will find your windshield and play havoc with your ability to see.
2. Slow Down. Remember it takes longer to stop when the streets are wet and if your tires are in poor condition, you’ll want to slow down as much as possible.
3. Turn on your headlights. This helps other motorists see you, as well as assist you in better visibility.
4. Stay alert – watch for brake lights in front of you and remember to avoid riding the brake yourself. In rainy weather it’s also difficult to see livestock, pedestrians and wildlife, so be prepared for sudden stops.
5. Never drive in moving water; your car could be swept off the road. Same goes for puddles and standing water – if you can’t see the street or ground through the water on the road; don’t even risk it – especially at night. Stop the vehicle in advance and check the flood level ahead. If the water is higher than the bottom of the vehicle doors or the bottom third of the vehicle wheels, it’s not a good idea to proceed. Instead, attempt to find a different – and much safer – street or road.
6. Pull over, especially when you can no longer see the edge of the road. Pull over onto the shoulder as far as possible, into a restaurant area or a parking lot to wait the storm out. Severe lightening can be hazardous, while high winds and heavy rain can create dangerous driving conditions. Use your hazard lights if you’re pulled over onto the shoulder so that other motorists can see your vehicle.
7. Carry handy windshield wipes in your glove box. They can be used to clean the inside of your windshield.
8. Slow down on approaching turns or curves in the road to prevent the risk of hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is when water comes between the tires of the vehicle and the surface of the road, causing a loss of traction.
9. Keep both hands on the wheel. This isn’t a good time to be chatting on the cell phone.
10. Wiper blades should be replaced once a year, so when your windshield wipers become frayed, broken or loose, it’s a good idea to replace them immediately. You never know when you’re going to get caught up in a heavy thunderstorm, rapid downpour or other forms of severe weather.
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