Driving Safely in the Springtime
Now that winter is over, did you think that the weather would no longer affect your driving? Well, you aren’t in the clear yet. The warm spring rains can make springtime driving almost as dangerous as driving in the snow and ice.
What makes rain and wet pavement so dangerous? When the first rain falls, the water can mix with oil and dust to create a film on the road’s surface. Slippery roads reduce your car’s handling and increase the distance it takes to stop (up to 4 times normal stopping distance). According to the Federal Highway Administration, rain was a culprit of 47 percent of all weather-related crashes from 1995 to 2008, and wet pavement in general accounted for 75 percent.
When you find yourself driving in these Spring rainstorms, follow these safety tips:
- Slow Down. Always drive at a slower speed when the roads are wet. Leave the house early and give yourself more time to get to your location.
- Turn off cruise control. Cruise control seems like a great way to keep a slow and steady speed during a rainstorm, however it can actually cause your car to speed up if you hydroplane. Also, you may not pay as close attention to the road as you should, with the cruise control on. Turn it off and stay alert.
- Avoid big puddles. If you spot a puddle ahead of you, safely maneuver around it. You can never be sure how deep the puddle is and if it is deep enough, it can cause serious problems for your car’s electrical system.
- Turn on your headlights. Even if the rain is really light, turn on your headlights. Not only is it a law, but it also helps to make your car visible to other drivers as well as helping you see the road and any debris or obstacles.
- Turn on your defroster. Windshields tend to fog up quickly during a rainstorm and can reduce your visibility.
- Brake earlier and slower. When you need to brake on wet roads, step on your brakes soon and with less force than you normally would. This will help to maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, as well as alerting the driver behind you to give them plenty of time to stop as well. Easing on your brakes will also help decrease your car’s potential for hydroplaning. Also, if you feel that your car is starting to hydroplane, do not brake sharply or turn the wheel. Doing so increases your potential of skidding. Slowly ease off your gas pedal and steer your car straight until you start to feel your tires regain traction. If you do not have anti-lock brakes, lightly tap the brake pedal; if you do have anti-lock brakes, you can brake normally.
When driving in spring showers, pay attention to how your car responds in the rain. Is the steering looser than normal? Are you sliding when you brake? If so, your tires could be losing their grip and you might be hydroplaning. Slow down and get your tires checked as soon as possible
You should also check out your lights, wiper blades and tire pressure. By making sure that all your lights work properly, you are increasing your visibility, as well as your ability to see in the bad weather. Worn-out wiper blades may chatter or skip across your windshield, leaving streaks and reducing your vision. They should be checked and replaced at least once a year. Schedule an appointment at any one of CJ’s 14 convenient locations and we will be happy to give your car a once over and get you safely back on the road.
CJ’s Tire and Automotive – Better. Faster. More Affordable.