All sorts of hazards can create risk for drivers. From other drivers to pedestrians, risk is always present when you’re behind the wheel. In terms of weather, rain is a bigger threat than most people know. Driving in the rain is extremely hazardous if you’re prone to carelessness.
Data shows that 73% of all car crashes occur on wet roads. Some 46% occur while it’s raining. Furthermore, a recent study out of North Carolina State University suggests that precipitation increases the likelihood of being involved in a fatal car crash by 34%. If you don’t exercise caution when driving in the rain, perhaps it’s time to start.
To that end, here are five things about driving in the rain your insurance company representative hopes you know:
People instinctively know that slipping and sliding on snow and ice is normal. They fail to realize the same thing can happen during a rainstorm. When it does, it is the result of hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning occurs when your car’s tires lose contact with the road surface. This can happen when there’s more water on the road than the grooves in your tires can channel away. Believe it or not, 1/12th of an inch of rain can send your car slipping and sliding.
The vast majority of states have enacted laws requiring drivers to have their headlights on when driving in the rain. This wasn’t always the case. Prior to the late 1990s, headlights were an option in many states. Why the change? Because headlights truly make a difference.
It’s important to turn your headlights on in the rain. They make it possible for oncoming cars to see you more easily. Likewise for your taillights. And as you know, your taillights are on whenever your headlights are on.
Speed is another big factor in car crashes. The faster you’re going, the more distance you need to stop. What many people don’t realize is that you need more distance to stop when the pavement is wet. It’s a simple matter of your tires not getting the same kind of grip. Apply the brakes too hard in a rainstorm and you could induce hydroplaning.
All of this is to say that you should slow down when driving in the rain. Slower speeds combined with greater distances between cars would prevent a fair number of car crashes under wet conditions. As an added benefit, slowing down gives you more time to react when rain has reduced visibility.
Cruise control may be a great tool for controlling fuel consumption, but it’s dangerous during rainstorms. It can actually cause your car to lose traction at the first hint of hydroplaning. And if you start hydroplaning with cruise on, your car will likely speed up. That will only make a dangerous situation even more so.
Finally, your insurance company rep hopes you understand that driving in bad weather requires more concentration. Turn off the radio. Your cell phone shouldn’t be out anyway, but throw it in the glove box if it is. Driving in the rain is also a good reason to temporarily suspend any conversations you might be having. Your entire concentration should be on the road.
It’s clear that wet conditions cause car accidents. It’s also clear that those actions are more likely to be fatal when rain is involved. Next time you have to drive in the rain, take it easy.