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How to Drive Safely in Heavy Rain

Summer’s sudden downpours can be just as dangerous as winter’s icy roads. Heavy rainfall can create slick driving conditions with next to no visibility and this type of situation requires that a driver adjust their typical driving style.

Next time you’re stuck in a drencher, here are some tips you should keep in mind:

  • First and foremost, you should slow down. Drive at the speed you feel most comfortable with given the current weather conditions. By reducing your speed, you’ll have more time to react if another car loses control or you encounter a huge puddle.
  • Beware of hydroplaning, which is when your vehicle actually travels on top of the water and has no, or very little, contact with the ground. When this happens you lose or significantly reduce your traction, so you shouldn’t make any sudden motions. The best thing to do is to keep calm, take your foot off the gas and then steer straight in the direction you want to go.
  • If it hasn’t rained for a while, then keep in mind that the road could be extra slippery. In dry weather, engine oil and grease build up on the road and when this combines with water, it makes for a slick drive.
  • If you come across a large puddle, don’t drive straight through it. Try to drive around it, or turn around and try a different route. Just by looking at the puddle, it’s hard to tell how deep it really is. You don’t want to risk driving through it, and striking a deep pothole or splashing water up into the car’s electrical system.
  • Most of the roads throughout Canada are made slightly higher in the middle of the road, with the sides sloping down to allow for water run-off. Avoid the side of the road, where deep puddles can form and stick closer to the middle line.
  • Whenever you do drive through a large puddle, afterwards, tap the brake pedal lightly to help dry your rotors.
  • When you know you’ll be driving in rainy conditions, allow for extra travel time. You don’t want to be in a rush – you’ll probably need to drive slower and traffic will also likely be moving slower.
  • You need to brake earlier and with less pressure than you’d use in normal conditions. Doing so will add more stopping distance between the driver in front of you and yourself. This will also give the driver behind a heads-up that you’re slowing down. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep more than three seconds of distance between you and the car you’re following in bad weather.
  • Don’t cross through running water. The water could be deeper than you think and it could be moving with a lot of more force than you think so there’s a chance your vehicle could get pushed around a little, or even swept away in the current.
  • With rainy conditions come dark grey skies. Turn on your headlights to help you see better and to allow other motorists to spot you better. Avoid using your highbeams because you could blind other drivers and the extra light will bounce off the rain droplets, causing more of a distraction for you. If the rain causes your windshield to fog up then turn on your window defrosters. Check that the air conditioning is switched on so you can clear away the fog as soon as possible.
  • Keep your distance from large trucks or buses – the spray from their tires can block your vision and make it extremely difficult to see. You should avoid passing them, but if you absolutely have to, make the pass as quickly as you safely can.
  • If the rain is coming down so hard that you can’t see anything, find a safe spot to pull over and wait for the downpour to stop. Turn on your hazard lights so other cars can see that you’re on the side of the road. By taking the above precautions the next time you’re stuck in a rainy situation, you can remain in control of your vehicle in the worst of situations. Take your time, be patient, and pull over if you need to. In time, the rain will likely let up and you can safely continue on your way.