Rain's something we know a lot about here in Seattle. In addition to our average 150 days a year of rain, we also have severe storms, such as the one in December of last year. You might think all this experience would make us really skilled at driving in the rain. But unfortunately, that's not true.
On average, according to the Federal Highway Administration, 46 percent of crashes related to weather occur while it's raining, while 73 percent happen when the roads are wet. From dealing with limited vision to splash-back from passing trucks to standing water and hydroplaning, there are many challenges to arriving safely at your destination.
Imagine you're driving and it starts to rain-just a little at first, but then more. Your car's tires aren't new; in fact, you're not really sure when you got them. One windshield wiper is not doing its job very well. And, just as it gets dark, the rain intensifies and visibility plummets. We've all been there.
Don't panic-take precautions
Common sense would tell you that you just need to slow down a little, and that's true. But here are other important things to do to make sure you travel safely.
- Turn on your headlights so that other vehicles can see you.
- Don't use your cruise control feature-you'll have reduced traction with it on, and you'll also have another thing to focus on when you need to be solely focused on the road ahead.
- Reduce your speed by a considerable amount, depending on the amount of water accumulating on the road. If you've been traveling at 55 mph, slow to 40 mph. This isn't the time to rush. Make sure you are not traveling too closely to the car in front of you, in case you need to stop suddenly.
- At night, add even more distance, and reduce your speed further.
- Avoid sudden braking: slow down gradually in advance of stoplights and intersections.
Remember to respect the rain
Above all, make sure you are concentrating solely on your driving. For some people, that will mean turning down their favorite music or stopping conversations with passengers until the downpour is over. Don't be embarrassed-it's worth it to keep everyone in the car safe. If you get overwhelmed at any point, find an exit ramp or a parking lot where you can pull over safely and sit out the downpour. You'll be back on the road again soon.