Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Driving Cautiously in a Downpour

Rain is essential.  It helps vegetation flourish, provides nutrients to soil, and is an overall integral part of life here on Earth.  But when it’s hitting your windshield and the pitter-patter of raindrops causes you to clench your teeth, it’s time to take precaution.  Rain can be attributed to thousands of car accidents a year.  Accidents can be preventable by drivers who weather (pun intended) the conditions of the road, using their intuition and defensive driving skills to stay safe during their commute.  When the road is wet, a film is created on the asphalt, causing your tires to lose traction.  Another problem during a downpour is your perception.  You can’t see as far into the distance as normal, so this decreases visibility of other cars and the road itself.

In today’s blog, we discuss some options to driving safely when the roads are wet.

Be careful when it rains after a dry spell.  Engine and oil grease cake up on asphalt over time.  When this is mixed with rainwater, it can cause the road to be extremely slick. 

Allot more time for your commute.  This allows for a steady drive to your destination.  The last thing you want to do is rush, it also compensates for delays, flooding, and unexpected accidents.

No Cruise control!  If you go into a hydroplane, there’s a slight chance your car could accelerate.  Reaction time is crucial and you’ll need your foot close to the pedal at all times.

Turn on your headlights.  This helps you see the road, and also lets motorists see you.  Blasting your high beams however can prove detrimental.  It can obscure your view further, reflecting water droplets in the air. 

Hydroplaning.  The first rule to avoiding the dreaded hydroplane is to avoid braking suddenly or turning the wheel, which can cause your car to spin or skid off of the road.  According to Edmunds: “Release the gas pedal slowly and steer straight until the car regains traction. If you must brake, tap the brake pedal (unless you have antilock brakes, in which case you can put your foot down).”

Defog your windows.  Rain causes your windshield to fog up fairly quickly.  Turn on your defrosters and make sure you're A/C is turned on.  Most vehicles climate control systems will automatically engage the A/C when the windshields defrost is selected. 

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