AUSTIN (KXAN) — We all know rain can impact traffic and cause delays on the roadways. It can be a little nerve-wracking having to drive in a downpour, so if you absolutely have to, here are some tips to keep you safe.
Driving in the rain
Insurance company Geico suggests cleaning the outsides and insides of windshields and windows on your car, so you can have the best visibility during rainy weather. Geico also says to check the condition of your windshield wiper blades and the level of your washer fluid once a week.
The company also says to turn on your headlights manually, so your taillights are activated, too. But you don’t need to turn on your bright lights, which will reflect off wet surfaces and make it harder for other drivers.
This one is self-explanatory, but Geico recommends drivers to slow down during rainy weather and leave enough following distance between you and the car in front of you. It’s not recommended for you to use cruise control on slick roads, either.
State Farm, another insurance company, says drivers should also brake cautiously and early, as it will stop you from slamming into the rear of another car and help alert drivers behind you that you are coming to a stop.
State Farm says to also avoid driving and subsequently splashing through a huge puddle, as water can get into your engine parts and damage it. Switch lanes if possible or drive around it.
Driving in the rain at night can add even more stress to drivers, so State Farm recommends dimming dashboard lights and avoiding looking directly into oncoming headlights. The company also says to understand how to operate your ventilation system to mitigate fog that might form on the inside of your windows.
DefensiveDriving.org recommends driving in another vehicle’s tracks to make it easier on your tires to handle the water. The website also says to avoid large trucks and buses, as the spray created by their tires can cloud your view.
DefensiveDriving.org says to be aware of gusty winds that may come with rain, which can push your car and others on the road around, causing you to lose control. The website says you can pull over and wait for the rain to subside if conditions get really bad or if you have trouble controlling your car.
SafeMotorist says hydroplaning is when a car’s tires skid or slide on a wet surface. This happens when the tire glides on a thin film of water on the road’s surface and loses grip. You could lose steering and braking capabilities.
SafeMotorist says the first few minutes of a light rain can be the most unsafe and when light rain mixes with oil residue on the street.
Here’s how SafeMotorist suggests to avoid hydroplaning:
- Keep tires inflated to appropriate pressure
- Rotate and replace tires when needed
- Drive slower when roads are wet
- Avoid puddles, standing water and outer lanes where water can pool
Here’s what to do if you are hydroplaning, according to DefensiveDriving.com:
- Don’t panic
- Don’t brake or accelerate abruptly
- Steer gently toward an open space
- Don’t have cruise control on
DefensiveDriving.com also has details on what to do depending on whether you have front wheel drive or rear wheel drive.
Turn around, don’t drown
If you encounter fast-flowing water on a roadway that’s already flooded, the National Weather Service advises you to turn around rather than to try and drive through it, as road beds can wash out under flood waters.
Six inches of water is enough to reach the bottom of most cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling. NWS says a foot of water can float vehicles; two feet of rushing water can carry away most of them.
If flood waters do rise around your car, NWS says to abandon the car and move to higher ground, if you can do so safely.
It can also help to know about low water crossings in your area, so you can avoid them if they’re closed or if it’s raining heavily. You can check for low water crossings in the Austin area on the ATXfloods website.
If there’s an active Flash Flood Warning for your area, try to avoid heading out the door to drive somewhere or delay travel plans.