In the South, over 90 percent of weather-related crashes occur on wet pavement, according to the Federal Highway Administration. We here in Bradenton and Sarasota are certainly familiar with navigating frequent summer storms, so Lakewood Financial would like to offer a few driving tips to keep you safe when it’s raining or the roads are wet.
- Rain makes it harder to see and be seen, and it makes the road slippery, so keep your windshield wipers, tires, and lights (headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals) in good repair.
- Turn on your headlights when it’s raining. This is the law, but it’s also common sense. Your headlights not only help you see, they help other drivers see you. Even though many cars have daytime running lights, turning on your headlights also turns on your taillights, so drivers behind you will be able to see you better. Don’t turn on your high beams, however, as they can cause distracting and dangerous reflections.
Did you know—it’s illegal to drive with your emergency flashers on? Flashers are to be used only when a vehicle is stopped or disabled. If you feel the visibility is so poor you need to turn on your flashers to be seen, you should safely pull off the road as far as you can, and wait out the storm. (And yes, now you can turn on your emergency flashers.)
- Don’t use cruise control. Under slippery circumstances, you want to be completely focused on your driving. Plus, if you need to slow down quickly, you can ease your foot off the gas, which is safer in wet conditions than braking. Since cruise control aims to keep your vehicle traveling at a set speed, it might even accelerate at a time you should be slowing down.
- Slow down and allow more space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. It takes longer to stop in wet weather, so allow yourself the time and space to react to the unexpected. Also give yourself extra time to get to your destination when it’s raining or conditions are wet so you won’t be tempted to drive too fast. Remember, all it takes is 1/12th of an inch of water and a speed of at least 35 MPH to be at risk for hydroplaning (when a layer of water builds up between the tires of your vehicle and the road, leading to loss of traction).
- Steer and brake gently. If you start to skid, ease off the gas pedal and gently steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go.
- Don’t drive through large puddles or standing water. If water is deeper than the bottom of your door, you could seriously damage your car. And never drive through moving water unless you can easily see the ground through it. Your car—and you—could be swept away.
- Take extra care on wet days that follow a dry spell. Oil and grime deposits on the road can mix with the rain to make things extra slick for the first few hours after rain begins falling again.
We likely have at least a few more weeks of wet driving conditions, so please stay safe out there!
FYI, for information on safe driving, consider taking the National Safety Council’s defensive driving course. You may be eligible for a discount on your car insurance. Be sure to check with your Lakewood Financial agent at 941-747-4600 to see if you qualify.