If you’ve made through at least one rainy season in Florida, you know that the rainstorms here are intense and nothing to take lightly. The rainy season begins in June and doesn’t end until November. In spite of this knowledge, it seems most drivers have no clue how to drive safely in wet weather. There are things every driver can do right now to reduce the chance of accident and injury when it rains.
1. Speed junkies slow down. It’s difficult to resist the temptation to speed in wet weather, especially when you’re eager to get out of the rain. However, doing so is risky for you and others on the road.
2. Switch on your lights. Far too many Florida drivers neglect to do this when it rains. A heavy rain can make it impossible for others to see your car.
3. Pull over if you can’t see. When rain is falling in sheets, as it often does, it can be impossible to see. Wait on the soft shoulder or pull into a parking lot until the rain lets up a bit.
4. Keep your foot off the brake. If you need to slow down, ease up off of the accelerator to avoid skidding. If you must use the brake, employ a lighter “touch.” If you have anti-lock brakes, you can ignore this precaution.
5. Stay in the middle lane when possible. Puddles form on roadsides and it can be impossible to tell how deep they are.
6. Keep a safe distance from trucks, buses and other large vehicles. They can create huge water spray. Also, if they stop suddenly, you want to be able to avoid a collision.
7. Stay off the road altogether when possible.
8. Be cautious when the first rains begin after a dry spell. After a period of no rain, oil and dirt can build up on the road. The first few hours of rainfall can cause that oil and dirt to become slippery.
9. Avoid hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is when a car rides on top of water similar to a water skier. If this happens, you could lose control of your car. To avoid it, drive less than 40 mph. Keep your tires in good condition by rotating them according to the car manufacturer’s recommendations and replacing them when they are worn.
10. Check your wiper blades. Months of sunshine can warp the rubber and render your blades ineffective once the rainy season begins. If they aren’t doing the job, replace them.