There is a lot of standing water on our roads and pathways and over the next couple of days, it is expected to get worse. So here is a reminder about driving in wet weather.
Wet Weather Driving Tips
How you drive can obviously make a significant impact on wet-weather safety. Be alert to the situation around you, including what other drivers are doing and how they are reacting to conditions. One of the best ways to avoid collisions is to always be prepared for the actions of others that will affect you.
- Leave yourself more time. Knowing that the drive will take longer prepare ahead of time by leaving for where you need to be earlier, don't try to make up time on the roads...it doesn't work and is very dangerous.
- Slow down before you encounter a problem, and be aware that your tires less grip available for stopping, steering and accelerating. Remember: Even four-wheel-drive and anti-lock brakes can't change the laws of physics.
- Never use your cruise control.
- Even a new tire can begin to hydroplane on wet surfaces, so watch your speed. If the steering begins to feel light and the car is splashing through deep puddles, gently reduce your throttle to allow the car to slow to a more manageable speed. Don't lift off the gas pedal abruptly or hit the brakes, since this could unsettle the tires' grip on the wet surface.
- Don’t drive your car through deep water on a flooded road. You simply cannot tell how deep the water is. It doesn't take much water to disable your vehicle or even float it off of the road surface. If you have any doubt about water depth, stop and go back the way you came.
- Use the speeds on your windshield wipers to help remove the amount of water that is hitting the windshield. This sounds simple, but some people forget that at higher road speeds you need higher wiper speeds.
- Be aware of the spray coming from passing trucks and oncoming cars. It may blind you temporarily, so anticipate this by turning on (or increasing the speed of) your wipers and by looking at what's happening to cars ahead of you.
- Turn down the radio and turn off your cell phone. Driving in heavy rain demands greater attention.
- If conditions become too intense, pull far off the road to a parking lot or side street and wait it out.
- If you travel through deep standing water lightly apply your brakes for a moment to dry them.
Preparing Your Car
If you are serious about driving in wet conditions, there are several things you can do to prepare your car:
- Make sure your wiper blades are like-new and that they still have a sharp wiping edge.
- Clean your wiper blades by running a damp cloth along their edges from time to time to remove the build-up of oils and debris that the wipers have removed from the windshield.
- Clean the interior and exterior glass surfaces of your vehicle.
- If your windshield is heavily pitted, it might be time for a replacement. Nothing lets you see better than a new windshield.
- Make sure that your headlights and taillights are working properly and that their lenses are clean and your turn on your full lighting package, not just day time running lights.
- Make sure your tires are inflated to manufacturer's specifications and have sufficient tread. To measure the tread use the ‘Bluenose Test’: place a dime in the tire’s groove with the Bluenose’s Sails facing down . If you can see the top of the Bluenose mass and sails, then your tires have sailed long enough and needs replacing. However, this test will not work with performance or off-road tires.
Don't drive through standing water when pedestrians or cyclists are nearby. It's bad enough getting wet because of the rain...getting a waterfall thrown at you is just cruel.
Be aware a cyclist may move out of the curb area due to standing water. No one should drive into standing water for safety reasons, so give them room and know that it is their right as a vehicle on the road to occupy a full lane when necessary.
The biggest factor in safe wet-weather driving is you and your judgment. When visibility drops and the roads become flooded, only you can tell when it is time to pull off and take a break. Sure, it may take you a bit longer to reach your destination, but in the end, the few minutes spent to be safe will be worth it.
Alternatives to Driving
Public transit is the best choice to avoid the need for driving in wet weather. Leave the driving up to someone else.