Tips for Driving in the Rain

Driving in the rain can be a source of anxiety for new and seasoned drivers, alike. Whether it's wet, slippery roads or the inability to see clearly in front of you, following safety tips for driving in the rain can prevent a dangerous situation. Make sure to prepare for wet conditions and drive slower to avoid skidding or hydroplaning.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Mar 11, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • Use your headlights and windshield wipers to increase visibility
  • Lower your speed and increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you
  • Be wary of standing water to avoid hydroplaning

If you’re new to driving or new to a rainy area, you might be wary of getting behind the wheel. By following a few safety and defensive driving tips, you’ll be a safer driver and feel confident in your driving abilities and comfortable in the car.

If you’re looking to refresh your memory on best practices, here are some tips for driving in the rain.

1. Prepare in Advance

Check the weather conditions and forecast when planning your trip. If you’re not comfortable driving in the rain, can you delay your errands until after the weather improves? A little planning goes a long way in avoiding suboptimal driving conditions, and it’s always safer to avoid inclement weather whenever possible.

But sometimes, driving in rainy conditions is unavoidable. So, what then? How can you best prepare for the wet road conditions?

The best preparation for safely driving in wet weather is keeping your vehicle’s equipment up-to-date:

  • Always ensure your tires’ treads are in good condition.
  • Check that your headlights, taillights, and windshield wipers are working well to ensure you’re driving safely and legally. If your wipers are making noise or leaving marks as they pass over your windshield, it might be time to replace them.
  • Stay up to date with vehicle recall check appointments and brake checks, including anti-lock braking systems.

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2. Maximize Your Visibility

The first thing to do in rainy weather is to ensure that your visibility will be as clear as possible — for you and the other drivers. Make sure you can see what’s in front of and behind you and that drivers can easily see your car on the road. Begin by turning your headlights and windshield wipers on. This way, others can see you approaching from farther away, and you can see them more easily, too.

Ensure that your vehicle is well-ventilated. Condensation on the inside of your vehicle can also reduce your visibility by obstructing your view out the front or side windows. To quickly defog your windows, try:

  • Using your car’s defroster
  • Turning on your car’s heat, then your car’s A/C to remove moisture from the air
  • Turning off the air circulation system, which brings cold, wet air into your car
  • Cracking a window or two, if necessary

If you’re unable to clear your view enough to safely continue driving, pull over and wait for your windows to defog.

3. Brake Earlier and Drive Slower

When conditions are wet, everything takes a little longer as you drive. Even if your reaction times are just as quick, your vehicle’s responsiveness won’t be. Rainwater decreases the friction between your tires and the road, so braking will take longer than you’re used to in dry weather.

Therefore, you’ll want to drive slower than you usually would and maintain a greater following distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. In normal conditions, driving teachers recommend following three seconds behind the car in front of you — with slick roads that should be closer to four.

Give yourself longer for braking, as well, by easing off the accelerator and slowly pressing the brakes long before you reach the line of idle cars at a stoplight, for example.

4. Pay Attention to Potential Hazards

There are a couple of dangers that come with driving in heavy rain. You’ll want to look out for these potential hazards and prepare accordingly:

Poor Visibility

Drivers have an impaired ability to see each other in heavy rain, especially during a heavy downpour. Be aware of your limitations and try not to assume others can see you as they would otherwise, even if you can see them. The same applies to the lines on the road — avoid close proximity to other cars, especially around corners, in case they swerve between lines.

Delayed Reaction Time

Your brakes and tires won’t behave as well as they do in clear conditions, and the same goes for the brakes of every vehicle on the wet road. Drive cautiously, with the knowledge that a sudden swerve or a slam of the brakes might not be possible as a defensive driving technique.

Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning occurs when a layer of water forms between your vehicle’s tires and the wet road. Due to a lack of friction, your vehicle might slip or skid out of control. To avoid this occurrence, be wary of deep puddles of water. If you find yourself in a situation where your vehicle is hydroplaning, try not to panic. Instead of slamming on the brakes or overcorrecting, gently take your foot off of the accelerator and steer in the desired direction.

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Protect Yourself in All Situations With Auto Insurance

Due to limited visibility and slick roads, accidents tend to happen more often during periods of inclement weather — rain more so than any other condition. Thankfully, auto insurance covers damages incurred during accidents, so long as the driver took the necessary precautions to drive safely on the wet roads.

Keep these safety tips in mind and check out autoinsurance.org for the best prices on car insurance, and you’ll be more than ready for the next bout of rainy weather.

References:

  1. https://driving-tests.org/beginner-drivers/how-to-drive-in-rain/
  2. https://www.idrivesafely.com/driving-resources/how-to/drive-in-the-rain/
  3. https://www.deanstandishperkins.com/blog/2016/02/rain-causes-more-car-accidents-than-other-weather-conditions/

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