Tips for driving in the rain, brought to you by Hollingsworth Auto Service.
Sitting on the porch — perhaps with a margarita in hand — in a storm can be relaxing. But driving in it is not. Driving in rainy and severe conditions can be anxiety-inducing. Our afternoon storms here in the Lowcountry are often intense, resulting in limited visibility and flash flooding, and increases anxiety — and the danger. Our subtropical climate causes storms to often occur at rush hour when roads are crowded and motorists are in a hurry, so you get an even higher risk for accidents.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are on average more than 950,000 automobile accidents each year due to wet pavement, resulting in approximately 4,700 deaths and 384,000 injuries.
Being behind the wheel with a rain-splattered windshield doesn’t have to be a white-knuckled, stressful experience. Drive smart and be careful.
Follow these Severe Weather Driving Tips
Drive smarter. The most important of our severe weather driving tips: SLOW DOWN. Rainy weather demands full attention. Don’t use cruise control and definitely stay off your phone. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your feet ready for action. Try to avoid hard braking whenever possible, don’t tailgate and be patient.
Beware of Hydroplaning. Slow down to avoid hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is what occurs when your tires lose traction with the road due to water on top of the road. The result is that your vehicle begins to slide uncontrollably. It’s easy to hydroplane: all you need is one-twelfth of an inch of rain on the road and a speed of 35 mph. What to do if you hydroplane? Ease off the accelerator and continue driving forward. Do not slam on the brakes. Steer straight until you regain control. Do not turn or jerk your wheel — especially in the opposite direction of where your vehicle has begun to slide.
Maintain visibility. Turn your headlights on. Day or night, keep your headlights on while driving in rain. In Georgia, it’s the law. Drivers are required to turn on their headlights when it is raining. Don’t use your high beams. Use your defrosters to keep your windows clear and defogged. Use your AC with the fresh air setting. Keep your distance from trucks and other vehicles producing excessive spray.
Be Prepared. Make sure your tires, wipers and headlights are working properly. Threadbare tires are dangerous. Keep your traction at top performance. Get regular brake checks and keep your windshield wiper blades ready for rainy days — before the rain comes.
Avoid standing water. Sudden thunderstorms in the Coastal Empire — combined with being barely above sea level — make for quick flooding of roads. Water can harm your vehicle’s electrical system and a foot of water is enough to float some cars. 2 feet of moving water can sweep most vehicles away — including SUVs.
Stay Smart. Stay Safe.
Pay attention — stay off the phone! — slow down, maintain visibility, make sure your vehicle is maintained, and avoid standing water. Following these simple Severe Weather Driving Tips will help make driving in the rain this season safer and less stressful. And remember, if the weather is too severe, it is ok to pull over and wait it out, provided the conditions and road allow to safely do so. It is better be to be late your destination than to be in an accident.