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How do you drive differently in the rain? Or another way to ask it is, “Is ‘because it’s raining’ an excuse for bad driving?” It isn’t. The rules of the road are clear about what to do when it’s raining out, and we all know it. We drive more carefully.

I’m using this example of the Illinois Rules of the Road that teach us that Illinois law, in fact, requires you to turn on your headlights when operating your windshield wipers. Did you know that? When rain begins to fall lightly, water, dust and oil and leaves, they can cause the roadway to be slippery. Especially when it starts raining, the roadways are even more slippery than after a long downpour, after the water has cleaned the roadway. So, take the following precautions when driving in rain.

  • Turn off your cruise control.
  • Use your foot on your brake pedals which allow you to better drive defensively to worry about what other drivers are doing and allow you to better control your vehicle especially if you’re going to hit a slippery spot.
  • Increase your following distance, your distance between the cars between you. Instead of a three-second rule, make it a six or seven-second rule. Instead of a car length for every ten miles per hour, use two car lengths or one and a half car lengths.
  • Take special care on curves and turns while driving because that’s where the inertia of the direction that your vehicle is going to go. It’s going to make you slide out into that oncoming traffic. Avoid hydroplaning by slowing down. Don’t go as fast. Hydroplaning occurs when you’re going so fast you have more of a layer of water between your tire and the road because of your forward momentum. If you’re going slower, you’re heavier on the roadway and your tires get a better grip on the roadway. If you skid while you’re hydroplaning, try to regain control of the vehicle. Let off on the brake. Sometimes that happens. Otherwise, release the accelerator and ride out the skid if you can’t control yourself at all.
  • What do you do if you come to a roadway or a viaduct or a bridge that has been flooded due to heavy rain? Do not drive through the flooded area. We’ve seen these warnings especially down south where there’s been terrible flooding from hurricanes or terrible rainstorms, these warnings, “Don’t try it. Don’t think you can make it. You don’t know how deep that roadway is. You don’t know if the roadway’s been washed out.” And people always underestimate the power of water and the power of nature. Water has a massive amount of force if it’s flowing through a roadway. It will take your car off in a second. You think you are not on dry ground, you will get pushed off, and the driver’s guide says, “It is impossible to determine the depth, the current to the water until it’s too late. Turn your vehicle around and find another route.” It’s always better to take a little bit time and be safe.

If you have any other questions about this or any other safety matter, call Gary Burger, me, at 314-542-2222. Thank you.

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