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  • Writer's picturejoseph retcho

Driving Safely in Heavy Rain and Wind

driving in rain

Driving in windy or rainy conditions is relatively common and may not be the most pressing safety concern for many drivers, but safety professionals know that driving in severe weather can significantly increase the risk of a dangerous situation for you, your family, and other drivers. Severe weather requires your undivided attention, so reduce driving distractions by turning down the radio and turning off and stowing your phone to help you focus fully on the road. Remember that sometimes the best decision you can make is to avoid driving entirely and stay off the road until the weather clears.

Driving in Strong Winds

Wind may not appear to be a significant risk, but strong wind requires extra caution from drivers. Strong winds can occur anywhere, but they are more common in wide-open spaces. Concerns include highway overpasses, tunnels, and "road cuts" through mountainous areas that can act as wind funnels. If you encounter high winds, the following tips can help you stay on the road and safe.

1. Be prepared for gusts. Take extra precautions when driving through windy areas or when severe weather is predicted.

2. Take note of larger vehicles. Be aware of large vehicles such as tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles on the road. They are more vulnerable to high winds, and drivers may struggle to stay in their lanes.

3. Maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel. Keep both hands on the steering wheel in case the wind starts to move your vehicle, especially if you're towing a trailer.

Rainy Day Driving

Drivers should be prepared to protect themselves against hydroplaning in addition to the potentially poor visibility that comes with most heavy rain. Hydroplaning occurs when a vehicle travels too fast in heavy rain, causing the tires to travel on a thin layer of water rather than grip the road surface. This has the potential to make steering and braking difficult, and could even result in your vehicle losing control. Use these tips to stay safe while driving in heavy rain.

1. Give yourself plenty of time. Reduce your speed to avoid hydroplaning. Also, one of the most dangerous times to drive is right after it starts raining. Rain can cause oils on a roadway to rise to the surface, making the road slick. Waiting a few minutes after the rain starts, rather than rushing to your destination, can be a safer plan when it is raining.

2. Turn on your lights. Turning on your headlights can improve your visibility and help other vehicles see you. During rain, many states require the use of headlights.

3. Make more room for other vehicles. In the rain, add 1-2 seconds of following time to give you and the cars behind you more time to react to traffic.

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