Rainy day safety tips for first time drivers

by Sharlyn Petit
As a Northwest teen, you’ve grown up wallowing in the region’s endless rain showers. Surely by now, you’ve had the chance to put in some practice hours, or put your new license to the test, on our wet and puddle-prone roads.
   Even if our “most rainy days” reputation is often debunked, the Northwest still gets an average of over 220 days of cloud cover annually. Gray skies come with a more-accurate reputation of “most precipitation” and a variety of weather terms to describe our showers: dew, drizzle, light rain, early rain, mist, sleet, and more.
   
Whatever wet weather conditions you find yourself in this fall and winter, here’s a refresher on some driving tips to boost safety in the rain:

1. If possible, stick to the middle lanes when it’s raining. Most roads are “crowned” in the middle so rainwater runs toward the outside.

2. Use extra caution at intersections, on- and off-ramps, and parking lots. Road oil accumulates more in low-speed areas, making them slicker by comparison to other wet stretches of road.

3. Turn off cruise control when it’s raining. Make 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.

4. Turn on your headlights no matter the time of day when it’s raining. You’ll greatly improve other drivers’ ability to see you. Consider it another rule: Wipers on, headlights on.

5. Slow down. If 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.

   Learn more about driving safe on our Tips & Resources page under Safety.

by  Jon Osterberg

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