Tips for Driving In Rain

Tips for Driving In Rain

Rainy driving tips - Smart Motorist offers the following suggestions for safer driving in wet weather. In stormy conditions, it is more difficult to see other vehicles, road signs and the road itself. It is critical to make sure you can see and be seen.

  • First and foremost: slow down! It takes longer to stop or adjust in wet weather.
  • Stay toward the middle lanes - water tends to pool in the outside lanes.
  • Maintain proper following distance (3 Second Rule). This needs to be increased in wet weather.
  • Drive in the tracks of a car ahead of you.
  • Don't follow large trucks or busses too closely. The spray created by their large tires reduces your vision. Take care when passing them as well; if you must pass, do so quickly and safely.
  • Be more alert when driving in wet or slippery conditions. Watch out for brake lights in front of you.
  • Avoid using your brakes; if possible, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down.
  • Turn your headlights on even in a light rain, or in gloomy, foggy or overcast conditions. Not only do they help you see the road, but they'll help other drivers see you. If your car has daytime running lights you still should put them on, so vehicles behind you can see you better.
  • Before it starts to rain, replace old or brittle wipers.
  • Avoid off-road driving: it's hard to judge the actual depth of puddles and you can easily become stuck, even in an SUV.
  • Never drive beyond the limits of visibility. At night rainy roads become especially treacherous. The glare of oncoming lights, amplified by the rain on your windscreen, can cause temporary loss of visibility while substantially increasing driver fatigue. In rainy conditions pedestrians, livestock, and wildlife are extremely hard to spot and even harder to avoid.
  • Never drive through moving water if you can't see the ground through it; your car could be swept off the road.
  • When driving through a puddle of uncertain depth, go slow. If it's deeper than the bottom of your doors, turn around and find another route. Deep water can cause serious damage to a modern car's electrical system.
  • Avoid splashing pedestrians.
  • If possible, stay off the road during heavy thunderstorms. Large flashes of lightning can temporarily blind and disorient drivers, and the accompanying high winds and heavy rain can create deadly driving conditions.

Slow down! This should be obvious but it also very important. People are so used to driving certain speeds on certain roads that sometimes they forget the need to slow down when inclement weather presents itself.

Before you go - Wet-weather driving demands gentle use of all the main controls - steering, clutch, brake and accelerator - and a larger allowance for errors and emergencies. When you begin a journey in rain, your shoes will be wet and liable to slip off the pedals. Scuff the soles on the rubber matting or carpeting of the car before you start the engine. All motorists should regularly check that their headlights, tail lights, brake lights and turn signals are working properly.

How are your tires? - Check your tires on a regular basis. Bald tires significantly reduce your traction on wet roadways, and offer little resistance to hydroplaning. When your tires run over water, the water is displaced and it needs somewhere to go quickly. The best place is between the treads of your tires. If your tires are bald, the water has no place to go and you end up riding on a layer of water, like a boat. (See Hydroplaning, below.)

Turn on your wipers - Replace your wipers regularly, at least once a year. Wiper blades in bad condition don't clear water from the windshield very well and distort your view. Older vehicles may need to have the whole wiper arm replaced. The arms bend over time and sometimes can't keep enough downward pressure to clear the windscreen, even with new blades installed. Wipers will often clear light rain from the windscreen with a few sweeps, then run on an almost-dry screen and leave smears of drying dirt. Don't be afraid to use the windscreen washers liberally: the fluid is cheap (99 cents a gallon) and the safety benefit is high. Carry extra during the winter.

Don't follow large trucks or busses closely. Splash and spray from these vehicles can obscure your vision, creating a potentially disastrous driving situation. Keep your distance, and your windshield wipers on, when other traffic is in front of you.

Turn on your lights - Whenever visibility is poor or it rains, headlights are a good way to let other drivers know where you are. It's both helpful to other travelers and makes you more safe. Remember, you are not the only one affected by poor visibility. You may be able to see cars without their headlights on but others may not have vision or windshield wipers as good as yours. Many states require headlights to be turned on when it is raining or when visibility is reduced to less than 500 feet.

Heavy rain - Heavy rain can overload the wiper blades, allowing an almost continuous sheet of water to flow over the screen. When visibility is so limited that the edges of the road or other vehicles cannot be seen at a safe distance, it is time to pull over and wait for the rain to ease up. It is best to stop at rest areas or other protected areas. If the roadside is your only option, pull off as far as possible, preferably past the end of a guard rail, and wait until the storm passes, seldom more than a few minutes. Keep your headlights on and turn on emergency flashers to alert other drivers.

Foggy windows - Rain or high humidity can quickly cause windows to mist up inside the car. In a car equipped with air conditioning, turn up the heat and direct the airflow to your defrosters with the AC switch engaged. (Many cars automatically engage the AC when switched to the defrost mode.) In a car without AC the procedure is the same, but you may need to open your side windows to get the air moving. Most modern cars have a built-in rear window defroster that easily clears a misted rear windscreen by heating up electrodes embedded in the glass. If you don't have one, put your defroster on high and its hot air will eventually follow the inside of the roof down to the rear window. If the car has swiveling dashboard vents, adjust them so that the air flow strikes the upper edge of the side windows. The airflow will clear the side windows first, finally traveling to the rear of the car. If all else fails, a rag or article of clothing will work as well; you'll just need to clear the window more often. Drivers should regularly clean their windshield and windows, both on the inside and outside, to help them see in good and bad weather. Smokers need to take extra care to make sure their interior windows are clear of a buildup of smoke residue.

Handling a skid - Losing control of your car on wet pavement is a frightening experience. You can prevent skids by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves. Brake before entering the curves. Steer and brake with a light touch. If you find yourself in a skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas, and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. This procedure, known as "steering into the skid," will bring the back end of your car in line with the front. For cars without anti-lock brakes, avoid using your brakes. If your car has ABS, brake firmly as you "steer into the skid."

Expressway driving - Leave lots of space between you and the car in front because it takes longer to stop. You're supposed to leave a few seconds between cars in dry weather. Make sure you add space in wet weather because if you have to hit the brakes hard, your tires will lock up, you will hydroplane and you will most likely hit the car in front of you. If available, drive in the fast lane, where there are fewer cars and less oil deposited on the road. Also, because of the built-in slope of the road, water drains towards the slower lanes. Avoid lane changes, as water tends to build up between the tire ruts in the lanes.

Oily deposits - Watch for intersections because of the oil spots in the road. Rain is most dangerous when it falls after a long, dry spell on to roads that have become polished and smooth: the rain blends with oil and rubber-dust deposits on the road surface to form a highly dangerous skid mixture. That mixture builds up at intersections, where cars stop and start frequently. Be extra careful immediately after it starts raining because it takes a while for the worst of the dirt and oil to get washed off the road.

Driving Through Water - Where water has flooded onto the road, drive very slowly and cautiously. Never drive through moving water if you can't see the ground through it: you and your car could be swept off the road, possibly finishing you both. Stop the car before entering the flooded area and check the water level ahead. Generally, if the water is deeper than the bottom of your doors or the bottom third of your wheels, it is inadvisable to attempt driving through it. Seek a detour rather than braving the flood and risking damage to your electronic control systems. Attempting to go through deep water can ruin any of these systems, creating a repair bill in the thousands of dollars.

At night it's much harder to see water hazards. You'll need good road observational skills to notice the difference between a wet road surface and flood water. Watch the contours not only of the road but also of fences, trees, hedges and buildings at the side of the road ahead. If they appear to be unnaturally low, slow down at once as the road is probably flooded. If you don't slow down and hit flood water at speed, the effect is almost like hitting a wall: you will first lose control, then come to a violent stop, possibly injuring your passengers as well. Watch out for places where floodwater collects, particularly low-lying roads adjacent to streams, and dips under rail or highway bridges.

If you determine it's safe to go on, proceed slowly and avoid making large waves in the water. If you have a manual transmission, engage first gear and keep the engine running fast by releasing the clutch just enough to partially engage gear and giving more acceleration than usual. This keeps the exhaust gases moving, helping to prevent water from entering your tailpipe. Vehicles with automatic transmissions should place the car in first gear and feather your brake, slowing the vehicle while at the same time keeping your revs up. Doing this for longer than a few seconds can seriously damage your vehicle and is not recommended. If you're submerged too deeply, your engine will stall and water might enter your engine through your air intake, causing a condition known engine hydro-lock, forcing you to replace it.

What to do if you stall in deep water - If possible, have someone pull your vehicle out using a tow rope or cable winch. It may be possible to drive a manual transmission car out using the starter motor. You can make the job easier by removing your spark-plugs, thereby lowering your compression and making your starter turn more easily. Take great care not to let water enter the cylinders, as it will hydro-lock your engine, ruining it. This is a last resort for rescuing a flooded vehicle and is not recommended.

Check your brakes - If you successfully pass through a deep water hazard, test your brakes. They may be saturated, and only driving very slowly and braking lightly at the same time will generate enough heat to dry them out. Be sure they are pulling evenly on all wheels before building up speed again.

As you browsed 'Tips for Driving In Rain' you may find interest in following articles . . .


Can anyone tell me what to do in case the wipers stop functioning while u are driving in rains ( any temperory method which can help in clearing teh glass)
Thanks, reply to

If you know your wipers do not work there is a spray product (I think called Rainex) that when used the water rolls right off the glass so car's occupants can see as well as if you were using wipers or maybe even better. That, of course, has to be re -applied periodically but it does work well. I don't know an answer if the wipers stop working in the middle of a rainy trip. Maybe looking out the sides of the car to the front may be easier to see than trying to look through a window full of water? I guess stop asap and get wipers fixed is best answer! STAY SAFE!

You sould meantion that cruse control should not be used in the rain. If on when you hit a puddle the normal physical reaction of the car is to slow, when the car slows the cruse control will try to increase the speed of the car, and you can guess the rest.

This is very helpfull advice, especially for teen drivers and young adults. I will pass this along our next safety brief at work.

Wearing sun glasses during daylight driving helps you see when driving and passing other vehicles. This is during daylight hours only. I tried this out on my last trip to seattle it helped.

NO! You DO NOT turn your flashers on during a rain storm. Only your lights should be on. Emergency Flasher are ONLY for stopped vehicles. If you look at most state driving manuals in indicates this as well.

BAD ADVICE, Smart Motorist!

He does say that you should stop in the heavy rain and leave your lights on with your hazzards. Therefore, good advice.

The author does say to only turn on emergency lights if you have to stop on the side of the road because of poor visibility. Read the article. GOOD ADVICE, it keeps you from getting hit!

Last weekend my daughter and I was going to the store and as we got to the corner all the sudden the s-10 with 20' rims would all the sudden not stop for me so I was like OMG what is going on with this crazy thing well let me tell you all what is going on here this s-10 was not made for 20'rims it should had have 18'rims instead but the shop wanted that $1100 dollers that day and said they would put 2 spacers on this truck so they would fit b/c the rims was to big or the s-10 was to small so could this be our problem with stopping in the rain now im scared to drive it so if it needs brakes we will get these breaks if anyone knows what was wrong this day when we couldnt stop then it just felt like it locked up and got stuck and stopped really fast this time please email me at to let me know what to do thank you and have a great evening!!!!!

Daytime lights on are a menace on the road. Everywhere in the world this has been introduced accident increase. It is common knowledge that any one that is tired or under the influence of drugs will drive towards a light. That could be you on the road
Children have difficulty in judging distance with a light on a vehicle they have no idea how far you away. The old method of doctors determining whether you had been drinking was to hold a torch at arms length and see if you could walk the white line
Under the influence of alcohol the offender would walk toward the torch.
Carbon emission If every one put the lithgts on daytime you would use 1.5 more fuel At the moment we are using 18.1 billion litres of fuel. 1.5% extra mutiply by 2.3 kilos of carbon and see what you get.

Help! Driving in this hot, humid weather the outside of the windshield will fog up. I have tried the defroster, but it doesn't help. It gets so bad, I can't see and have to put the wipers on. Do I have to put the heat on - turn theA/C off?

This happened to me in Florida last year, for hours I had to use the windshield wipers to rid the outside fog. It was so annoying and nothing worked except wipers.

Turn on A/C with warm air, blow wind upward the windshield.

In hot am humid weather when windshield fogs up, I would turn AC on. A little of heat on is still OK but the AC does the trick. Modern cars do a proper mix of AC and heat in auto mode so if your car has the auto-climate control, just set it to "auto" mode.

NEVER turn flashers on during a heavy rain storm unless you are STOPPED. As mentioned in the article, the glare of lights is amplified by the rain and turning on your flashers blinds other drivers. I was in extremely heavy rain once with severely limited visibility. When some drivers turned on their emergency flashers my visibility went to near zero. I could no longer tell where any cars were because my view was just filled with yellow and orange lights. It made a dangerous situation worse.
And never try to turn with your flashers on. Obviously a turn signal means nothing to other drivers when both your turn lights are flashing.

5 days ago I drove really fast through an area at the end of my street and drive that was flooded just so I could get up into my apartment complex. Just as I got up into my apartment complex my engine light came on but my car kept running and I got into a parking spot ok. I revved the engine a few times just to make sure all was well. A couple of days later I started having problems starting the car. Not like the battery was dead and struggling but just no sound at all. Then it would start no problem after a few tries. Now it is getting to be a few more tries to get it started. Could the water have damaged my starter or battery?

Can anyone tell me why my tires on my car in the front only get jerk like movements in the rain? It drives fine any other time except when it rains. It's almost like slip and slide and I am forced to drive 35 to 45 mph street and freeway.

I had a similar problem.

I drive a 2003 BMW 525i. On August 27 when hurricane Irene hit U.S. Northeast, my car got stuck in paddle of water by my house, and the engine shut off. The water had gotten inside the engine air intake system. I called my mechanic who advised that I let the engine dry. I did let it dry and was able to start it later on after a few attempts.

Then on September 25, 2011 early afternoon I was driving on a newly paved road and all the sudden I heard a huge noise under the hood. I immediately slowed down and pulled over. The noise continued till the stopping point. I also noticed that the engine oil was leaking all the way from the point where I heard the noise to the point where I stopped the car. By the way, the "check oil level" warning had already come on by the time I stopped the engine. I walked back to the explosion point and picked up a sample of broken thick metal pieces. I got towed into the shop, and the mechanic said the pieces are parts of the engine block. He also said my engine is broken to the point of no repair. The engine needed to be replaced. The problem is internal, i.e., some parts collided internally, which caused the engine block to blow up. To my best judgment, this is due to the water that got into the engine during the Irene Hurricane incident.

A few days before the incident, I had had engine oil and filter changed and all other fluids checked and filled. At the same time I had the coolant flushed, the reason being that I had the engine had overheated a few days earlier (following Irene incident) while I was getting stuck in traffic in New York City. When it overheated, this was the only time in over 2 years I've driven the car; I pulled over right away and waited till it cooled down. The car ran beautifully afterward, till the worst happened on Sunday Sept 25, 2011.

The engine block could have also incurred damage from a rapid cooling. As the block was very hot and when you hit the puddle of water the block rapidly cooled. If water got into your intake then water reached more then halfway up your engine. Like anything else when something is extremely hot and you dump something cooler on it, cracks will begin, whether visible or not. This in turn stresses many parts of the engine such as gaskets which crack and other components.

I do not see how water entering the intake would cause such a violent reaction. If a ton of water entered the engine you would not have been able to start it. If you were able to start it after letting it dry out then water entering the intake did not cause the engine block "exploding".

It's completely true that the rain can affect your driving so much, I often forget that it does until I get in the car on a rainy day and can feel that I don't have as much control of the car as I normal do, I straight away slow down.

I found your tips really helpful and will definitely take them on board the next time that I have to go driving in the rain.

Also, I've never checked my tires in four years of driving and never heard of hydroplaning before but is not something I would like to do!

Thanks for the advice!
Keep Your Eyes on the Road

The tips would be really helpful. I will discuss this topic "Driving in Rain" during my next week toolbox meeting. Thanks for the valuable safety tips.

Post new comment