AAA says this summer might be the busiest travel season ever as Americans return to pre-pandemic vacation patterns. Even on clear, sunny days, busier roads create more dangerous traveling conditions. When a heavy summer rain shower pops up, summer driving becomes even more treacherous.
Before you hit the road this summer, consider these safety tips for driving in the heavy rain:
Test Your Vehicle’s Equipment Before Taking Off
Do your windshield wipers, headlights, and taillights work? What about your defroster? You’ll need these systems during a heavy storm. Not sure how to check? Just ask the technicians at your next oil change.
Good Tire Condition Avoids Hydroplaning
Worn tires are dangerous any time. On rain-slickened roads, worn tires can be the difference between hydroplaning or maintaining adequate traction. Check your tires’ tread and pressure before hitting the highway for a long trip. And when it starts to rain, slow down and keep a little extra distance between you and the cars in front of you.
Slow Down but Avoid Sudden Braking
Posted speed limits are designed for ideal driving conditions, so you may need to travel 10 to 20 mph, or more, below the speed limit during the rain. But remember: When you can’t see well, other drivers can’t see well either. Stopping or changing lanes suddenly can put you and other drivers in more danger. Try to drive in a calm, predictable way.
Turn On Your Wipers and Your Lights
Newer cars automatically turn on your headlights during the rain — when lights are set to auto. If you have an older car without this feature, be sure to turn on your headlights when you switch on your wipers. This helps other drivers see you, making everybody safer. “Lights on when raining” is the law in 18 states.
Use Defroster to Clear Windows
Many drivers think of the car’s defroster as a wintertime feature. But fast changes in temperature and humidity during a summer storm can also obscure your view. When this happens, your car’s defroster is your friend. Sometimes, opening the windows a little for a few minutes — assuming the rain isn’t gushing in — can help clear windows faster.
Storms Aren’t the Time for Distracted Driving
During a storm, you might be tempted to check your phone for weather alerts. Avoid this temptation. Ask a passenger in the car to check their phone instead — or wait until you have a chance to pull over safely. Distracted driving can be deadly in clear conditions. Drivers have even less room for error during a heavy storm.
When You Can’t See, Pull Over
This is a Catch-22 for some drivers in a storm: They can’t see well and want to pull over. Yet they don’t feel safe pulling over, either. If the rain is so heavy you can’t see where you’re going, it’s best to pull over and wait for conditions to improve. Pull over safely, though. Move your car completely out of the roadway and turn on your hazard lights so other drivers can see you’re parked.
At InfraStripe, we care about everyone’s safety. Drivers who are prepared, paying attention, visible, and predictable make traveling safer for everybody during a summer storm. Safe travels!