Safety Tips for Driving in the Rain

Nashville, Tennessee sees an average rainfall of 47 inches per year, with around 119 rainy days total. The rainiest month in Nashville is May, during prime spring weather. Driving in the rain presents unique dangers to drivers, from slippery roadways to limited visibility. As a driver, it’s your responsibility to learn how to drive as safely as possible in the rain, and to prevent accidents whenever possible. Use these five tips to stay safe during Nashville rainstorms this year.

Prepare for What’s Ahead

Always check the weather forecast before hitting the road, especially if you’re taking a trip to an unfamiliar destination. If there’s really bad weather in the forecast, try to postpone your trip. If rain seems inevitable, you can at least take steps to prepare, such as:

  • Refilling wiper fluid
  • Checking, repairing, or replacing windshield wipers
  • Checking your vehicle’s headlights, taillights, and brake lights
  • Checking your tires for bald spots
  • Keeping a working cell phone in your vehicle
  • Allowing more time to get to your destination

Preparing to drive in the rain can make the entire experience less frightening. You can go into bad weather with a cool head, plenty of time to drive slowly, and a vehicle that’s well-maintained to take on the rain.

Drive Extra Cautiously

Your vehicle cannot maneuver as well on slippery, wet roadways. If you must drive in the rain, do so with more caution behind the wheel than usual. The first 10 minutes of rain make the roads their most dangerous. The rain mixes with motor oil on the road and creates a slippery condition. If it rains long enough, the oil will wash away, leaving less slippery roads. Take extra care during the first few minutes of new rainfall.

Slow Down

Drive slowly on wet roads, reducing your speed below the limit if necessary to maintain control of your vehicle. Speeding increases the chances of hydroplaning, which happens when a vehicle slides out of control on a wet roadway. Hydroplaning eliminates your car’s traction and makes it difficult or impossible to steer or brake. Always keep ample distance between your car and others around you in case of hydroplaning. If rain gets severe enough to impair your vision, pull off the road or take an exit as soon as is safely possible and wait for the storm to subside.

Don’t Use Cruise Control

Many drivers don’t realize the dangers of using cruise control during a rainstorm. Cruise control will make your vehicle speed up if it loses traction, adding to the loss of vehicle control. If you hydroplane, for example, your cruise control will accelerate your vehicle to maintain the desired speed. Cruise control can apply more throttle when you really should be slowing down in dangerous conditions. As soon as it starts to rain, turn your cruise control off for the remainder of your drive.

Know How to Handle Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning doesn’t necessarily mean an inevitable car accident. There are things you can do to keep your vehicle safely on the roadway and in your lane while hydroplaning. Hydroplaning happens most often in the first 10 minutes of rain, when rain gets heavy enough to form puddles on the roadway, or when drivers are going faster than 35 miles per hour.

If you hydroplane, do not hit your brakes or turn the wheel sharply. Ease your foot off the gas until you regain traction. Turn the wheel in the same direction as the slide. As you begin to regain control of the vehicle, gently straighten the steering wheel. If you have to brake, do so gently to avoid your brakes locking up on the slippery road. If you don’t have antilock brakes, pump them lightly. With antilock brakes, you can apply pressure steadily. When in doubt about driving in a rainstorm, just stay home.