Safety tips for driving in the rain

Apr 17, 2014 at 12:00 p.m. ET

It's just rain, right? Wrong. Rain completely changes the dynamics of driving and you can easily find yourself in a slippery mess. Here are adjustments you should make to prevent rainy-day accidents.

Woman in car in the rain |
Photo credit: Martin Barraud/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Wet weather is no fun, but an accident can really put a damper on anyone's day. As raindrops begin to fall from the sky, here are some tips to help you navigate rainy trips with confidence.

Be prepared

Keeping your car in tip-top shape is your number one priority for driving safely in rainy conditions, so use that sunshine to your advantage before the clouds roll in. In fact, according to experts at Sears Auto Center, 80 percent of your driving decisions are based on your visibility. So replace those old, brittle or broken windshield wipers, and while you're at it, make sure your headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are in good working order.

Watch your tires

Bald is not beautiful when it comes to tires. Tires without tread do not provide necessary traction, says Brad Rea, owner of "Driving on worn tires is a huge safety hazard — for you, your passengers and others on the road around you," he said. "Typically, tire tread above 2/32 of an inch is considered to be adequate, though some tests have shown that 4/32 is a much safer guideline to follow."

Rain boots |

Wipe those feet

While it makes sense to wipe your feet before you enter your home, you should also wipe them once you get into your car. Wet shoes can easily slip off the pedals, so keep a towel in your car or use floor mats that absorb water and keep the bottom of your pumps with heels dry.

Ax cruise control

Cruise control is an awesome invention in modern-day automobiles, but it can also be a hazard when the roads are wet, says David Melton, driving safety expert with Liberty Mutual Insurance. Your reaction time may be slightly decreased when your foot is off the gas pedal, so keep your foot on the pedal when the roads are wet.

Keep rage bottled

We've all been there — the car in front of us is going unreasonably slow, at least in our minds. Tailgating is never a good plan, but especially when roads are hazardous. So decrease that urge to tailgate and increase the distance between you and the car ahead of you. Sears Auto Center recommends at least two car lengths.

Don't splish-splash

Splish splash, don't give your car a bath. While standing water is an invitation to reminisce your childhood years, while in your car, avoid puddles altogether. It's impossible to judge how deep or shallow a puddle might be, so don't take a chance. Even the largest vehicles can become stranded. If you are forced to drive through standing water deep enough to get your brake shoes wet, Sears Auto Center recommends applying the brakes lightly to dry them.

Don't panic

The first few hours of rainfall can be the most dangerous. When the new rain mixes with oil and grease on the road, it can create a very slippery surface, and your car can hydroplane. If you begin to hydroplane, try not to turn the wheel or brake suddenly. Instead, slowly release the gas pedal and keep the steering wheel straight until your tires regain traction.

More safe driving articles

Driving safely with baby on board
How to drive down a flooded street
Tips for road trips in rough weather

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