Rainy Day Driving Tips

Confession: I like rainy weather. But the thing is, it’s really only fun when you’re safe and dry indoors. Trying to change lanes, merge, and maneuver on wet, slippery roads? Usually not so fun.

And it can also be dangerous; according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the vast majority of most weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall. But since most of us will eventually have to leave the house during the rainy season, it’s worth reviewing some of the must-know safety tips before getting behind the wheel in a storm. 

  1. Take it slow. This may sound exceedingly simplistic, but speed can be a major issue during and after rainfall. Because wet roads can cause your tires to lose traction, your car can become a lot more difficult to handle, even if you’re a pro. And if it doesn’t feel safe, don’t feel compelled to stick to the posted speed limits as your max — if it’s not safe to go that fast, don’t.
  2. Hold the steering wheel with both hands. Yes, we’re all guilty of occasionally steering with one hand while the other twirls hair/reaches for snacks/searches for gum in the bottom of your backpack. But one-handed steering is never a good idea — especially when the roads are wet and unpredictable.
  3. Keep your windows frost-free. Precipitation from the rain can hinder visibility, so always use your front and rear defrosters to keep your windshield and windows clear.
  4. Keep your distance. Breathing room is always a good idea when it comes to driving behind other vehicles, but it’s particularly important to increase your following distance in the rain where braking might take longer.
  5. Use your headlights. No matter where you live, state law requires headlights in low visibility conditions, and some states also require headlight use any time the windshield wipers are turned on.
  6. Now’s not the time for cruise control. When the roads are covered in rain or snow, there’s a risk for hydroplaning — your tires losing traction on the water topping the road. It doesn’t take much water for hydroplaning to occur, and if it does, it causes your vehicle to slide uncontrollably. Cruise control while hydroplaning is a recipe for a faster, more chaotic slide.
  7. Consider…not driving. Look, there are other ways to get around. Grab your raincoat and jump on a bike, on the bus, or just walk. It’s refreshing, healthy, and when you get where you’re going people will probably find you impressive. (Need we also mention you’ll save money on insurance if you’re a pay-per-mile customer?)

Rain or shine, you’ll need an insurer who’s got your back. Grab a quote today.

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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.