6 Tips For Driving Safely on Wet Roads

Slick_city_streets_after_rain.jpgA short break in the rain has dried the roads a bit, but we have more coming by week's end. Whether you're driving biking or walking, use caution when commuting on wet roads.

See and be seen.

Make sure you headlights, taillights, turn signals, and brake lights all work. If your windshield wipers leave streaks of dirt, replace them.

If a car next to you splashes through a puddle and covers your windshield, functional wipers will ensure you can clear off the gunk. Working lights help keep you visible. They also help you avoid a traffic ticket.

If you commute by bike, follow the same principles-make sure you have working headlights and taillights on your bike. And make sure they're fully charged before you leave home.

Slow down.

Slow down, brake early and avoid sharp turns to prevent skidding, spinning out, and hydroplaning. According to AAA, at 30 mph or less, properly inflated tires with good traction will maintain road contact. Above that speed, water separates from the tire, causing hydroplaning.

Invest in rain gear.

If you bike commute, invest in a rear fender. It will protect your clothing and your bike from road grime.

Quality, bike-specific rain jackets, pants, shoe covers, and a helmet cover or hood will help keep your regular clothes dry. Keep dress shoes and clothes either in plastic bags or in a waterproof messenger bag. The last thing you want is to spend your day in soggy clothes.

Don't use cruise control.

If you start to lose traction or approach a dangerous situation, you may need to reduce your speed by lifting your foot off the accelerator. If you have your car in cruise control, you can't. Make sure you have full control of your vehicle when driving on wet roads.

But use other safety features.

If your car comes with traction control, by all means use it. Traction control helps prevent tires from slipping on pavement and helps you maintain control when accelerating.

Your vehicle's antilock braking system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC), both help keep you safe on wet roads. ABS prevents loss of control during hard braking. ESC, installed on 2012-model vehicles and newer, helps stabilize your vehicle when it starts to veer off-path.

Anti-skid control and lane-keeping assist, if your car has them, are also helpful in wet weather.

Respect the rain.

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, 46% of weather-related crashes happen in the rain, compared to only 17% in the snow. The study authors suspect that's because more drivers stay home when it snows, but will drive in any type of rain.

If it's raining so hard you can't see the edges of the road or other vehicles at a safe distance, it's best to pull over and wait. If you're driving over the Bay Bridge, can you take a short detour to visit Treasure Island? There's a nice café there with good coffee.

If you get into an accident while driving in the snow or rain and sustain injuries, first, get medical attention. Next, call a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation.

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
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