People are becoming more aware of the dangers of getting behind the wheel of a car. We know it is usually the most dangerous thing we do daily, and it takes special attention to detail to understand all the rules and regulations that keep us safe.
Unfortunately, there are many scenarios where our driving habits don’t affect the outcome of a trip down the highway. Often, there are powers out of our control that harm us, whether it is other drivers or the weather.
Even areas known for mild temperatures and sunny conditions have been affected by climate change. Snow is obviously the number one weather event that puts us on our toes, but rain and wind can be equally frightening if you don’t know how to drive safely in these conditions.
There are many different ways you can stay safe when driving on a wet road. We will cover many of the keys to rainy driving, including how to keep your speed at an ideal number and when to accelerate and brake to avoid hydroplaning.
We will also discuss the emotional effects of driving in bad weather and the financial consequences of getting into an accident because of the elements.
How to Drive Safely in the Rain
Rain gets a bad reputation. It brings our mood down, it prevents us from getting outside and staying active, and it makes it harder to drive. And even though you can definitely have fun in the rain (monsoon treks in India can be a unique vacation experience), rainwater lives up to its reputation as a negative weather pattern that we just have to grin and bear.
Life doesn’t stop when it rains, though. We still have to go to work, pick up our kids from school, and invest in positive lifestyle choices like going to the gym. This means you have to teach yourself how to stay safe when driving in the rain, and it all starts with your caution near puddles and large pools of water.
Hydroplaning occurs when your vehicle is no longer in contact with the pavement. Your car is essentially trying to drive on water. While this can induce panic and poor decision making, you should stay calm and slowly pump the brake. Move the steering wheel in the direction you want the car to go in, and if you have anti-lock brakes, they should allow the car to move in a straight line.
Drive slower than the speed limit, and don’t let others intimidate you into driving in a way that makes you feel unsafe during a downpour. Put your headlights on even if it is during the day. Often the inclement weather makes clear vision much harder to maintain and the clouds and fog that accompany showers can complicate the experience even more.
Make sure all the materials on your car are up to snuff and aid you in your driving experience. This means buying tires that have great grip and checking the pressure on those tires every few weeks, and maybe more during the winter.
Get wipers that clear the water off of your windshield efficiently. Often there is too much smearing on the windshield during a rainy session. Adding some rain repellant to your windshield is another added option of security and safety to give you peace of mind.
What about snowy weather?
Snow and sleet are even worse than rain, and many of the same principles apply to driving in a blizzard. Drive much slower than the speed limit suggests. Don’t let others on the road influence your driving decisions. Far too often, someone in a four-wheel-drive or with big chains on their truck tries to drive faster than they should, causing disaster for everyone.
More than any other weather event, snow makes it nearly impossible to drive if there is too much of it, especially if ice is involved. There are no options for your car to recover if you are sliding into a ditch during a blizzard.
If you live in an area with a lot of snow like the Midwestern U.S., you can buy or rent a vehicle that handles snowy conditions. Subarus and Audis have great four-wheel-drive systems and lane-assist technology that notifies you when you are leaving your lane or veering too far to the side.
If you live in an area where snow is rarer, there isn’t a good reason to buy a vehicle catered to snow and sleet. Rather, you should decide whether you really need to leave the house during these cold-weather events, and ask your employer if you can work remotely. Safety should always be prioritized over anything else.
Consequences of Driving in Bad Weather
Beyond the obvious dangers of injury or fatality from driving in horrible weather, there are also some financial consequences to going out in the miserable environments of the winter. Living in a state with a lot of cold weather will cause your insurance rates to go sky-high because of the added risk the insurer is taking on.
Getting insurance on a vehicle known for its safety features will help bring those premiums down. Showing your insurance company you have a great driving record in a state with bad weather also proves you are less of a risk than someone who has multiple accidents. Not driving very often will also help your cause.
Driving is simply an activity that includes scenarios that go out of our control. You can never be the boss of everything in your life, as sometimes Mother Nature gets the last call.
What you can do is decide how to stay off the road as much as possible and take as many precautions as you can when you have to drive during a snowstorm or a rainstorm.
Listen to others who have more experience in this type of driving than you do, and stay confident in your abilities to overcome any obstacle on the road.