Northwesterners are no strangers to rain-slick roads.
While snow tends to grab the weather headlines, west of the Cascades at least, rain-slick roads present a more frequent and often overlooked threat. Follow these 10 tips to improve your safety in the rain:
If possible, stick to the middle lanes when it’s rainingMost roads are “crowned” in the middle so rainwater runs toward the outside.
Replace your wiper blades every year for optimal visibility
Use extra caution at intersections, on and off ramps, and parking lotsRoad oil accumulates more in low-speed areas, making them slicker by comparison to other wet stretches of road.
Turn off cruise control when it’s rainingMake it a rule: wipers on, cruise control off. There’s some debate about whether cruise control can actually cause a loss of control on wet roadways, but at a minimum, it slows your ability to recognize and respond to changes in road conditions.
Maintain good tire treadPoor tread and speed contribute to loss of traction.
Drive in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you on wet roadsOther cars’ tires displace water on the roadway, giving you a drier surface.
Assuming your car has antilock brakes, brake normally if you skid on a wet roadPump the brakes only if your car is not equipped with antilock brakes.
Tap your brakes lightly after driving through a puddle to help dry themBut avoid driving through standing water unless you know it’s very shallow.
Turn on your headlights no matter the time of day when it’s rainingYou’ll greatly improve other drivers’ ability to see you. Consider it another rule: Wipers on, headlights on.
Slow downIf you do one thing – and one thing only – to improve safety in the rain, do this: reduce your speed. You’ll cut your risk of hydroplaning and give yourself more time to stop on slick roads.