As the summer months give way to the cold and rain of winter, our driving habits must adapt to these changes in the weather. Driving in wet weather conditions is much more dangerous than doing so on dry roads, and if driving behavior does not account for this added danger, the threat of serious accidents is magnified significantly. To ensure your safety throughout these dark and stormy winter months, there are a few important things to keep in mind while behind the wheel when the weather gets wet.
First, your overall speeds should be reduced. Slippery roads inhibit the performance of your vehicle, making it more difficult to turn, brake, or accelerate, and high speeds prevent you from being able to perform the correct maneuver in a safe amount of time. When braking, do so earlier and with less force than you would on a dry road, as wet roads increase stopping distances significantly. Not only does this allow you ample space to safely avoid a collision with whatever is in front of you, it also gives a clear indication to the drivers behind you that you are making a stop, allowing them the time needed to stop safely as well.
When turning, avoid tight, quick corning as the lack of traction can easily send your vehicle rolling onto its side. Take turns at a slower pace than you would in dry conditions, and perform a more gradual turning motion to prevent this possibility for rollovers. Sharp turns can also be an indication of a lack of focus while behind that wheel, or confusion about when or where to turn. This can be counteracted by clearly mapping out your route before setting off, and paying close attention when your next turn is approaching. Avoid any in car distractions like cell phones or touch screen navigation systems can keep to the task of driving.
Acceleration should also be performed more gradually to prevent any loss of control. Because of the slipperiness of the road, there is a much higher chance of a loss of control while accelerating. Slowing your rate of acceleration ensures that your tires will maintain consistent contact with the road, and that your speed can build smoothly. In the event of a loss of control, you vehicle can spin or slide, and even regain traction at unexpected times, leaving you open for collisions with other drivers on the road, and obstacles alongside it.
You should also regularly check the condition of your windshield wiper blades. If cracked and weathered from lack of use during the summer months, it may be time to change them. Without wipers that adequately wipe away rain and snow, you can be caught stranded in a heavy downpour, unable to see where you are going. You should check to make sure your wipers are installed correctly, and that nothing has been caught between them and the windshield before you take to the street. If you fail to perform these checks before the rains come, you can leave yourself susceptible to a dangerous situation that could have easily been avoided.
Most of all, your full attention should be given to the road ahead at all times. Safe driving in wet weather conditions not only relies on your own correct driving habits, but the habits of those around you as well. Even the existence of a single irresponsible wet weather driver on the road can spell disaster for everyone else. With a continuous eye on those around you and a careful approach to your own driving, you can give yourself the best chance for safe travel when the roads get wet.