We’ve all heard that refrain and variations of it dozens of times.
“Be careful driving, it’s slippery out when it rains.”
“The snow’s coming down hard, stay alert out there.”
“It’s dark out, pay attention to the roads.”
Of course, those statements are all true. When it’s raining, snowing, sleeting, or dark out, you should certainly stay alert and drive slowly and carefully.
What Speed Should You Drive in the Rain?
When it comes to best practices for driving during wet road conditions, the first thing you should look at is your speed. While speeding in its own right is dangerous enough, you should never go above the posted speed limit during severe weather events.
There isn’t a magic number in terms of a specific speed that you should drive during a rainstorm. It’s best to focus on being a defensive driver and following all of the best safety protocols for driving in the rain.
Best Practices for Driving in the Rain
In addition to giving yourself plenty of time to come to a stop on a rainy highway, you should also follow these best practices in order to maximize the safety of you, any passengers, and those driving around you.
You should NEVER:
- Drive with your cruise control while it’s raining
- Drive with your lights off while it’s raining
- Change lanes without a turn signal
- Drive through standing water, especially under bridges and overpasses
- Lock up your brakes or rapidly turn the wheel
You should ALWAYS:
- Give yourself plenty of space to stop in case of an emergency
- Check the integrity of your windshield wipers regularly
- Drive with your hazard lights on during especially heavy rain
- Stop driving as soon as possible if your visibility is impaired by rain
- Use your defogger during heavy rain
What About Driving at Night?
Many drivers report having difficulties driving at night without having to deal with rainy road conditions. When you mix in inclement weather, the chance of an accident occurring increases dramatically.
That’s why it is important to evaluate your vehicle and yourself before hitting the road at night during a storm. Here is a quick checklist you should conduct on your vehicle to ensure that it can operate optimally in an evening rain storm:
Tire Tread—If you have bald tires, your car may not stop promptly in the rain.
Brakes—Do you hear a squeaking or a grinding noise when you hit the brakes? If so, it might be time to get them checked.
Tinted Windows or Cracked Windshields—Minimizing optical distractions is an absolute must.
Outside of this, if you are fatigued, have astigmatism or some other eye condition, you may want to evaluate asking a friend to drive, book a ride share service or just wait until the storm passes.
At the end of the day, you have to evaluate the level of risk you’re willing to accept when driving during a storm.
But what about when it’s the middle of the day, it’s dry out, and the sun is shining? No need to be cautious then, right?
NHTSA statistics show that surprisingly, most accidents happen during the daylight hours in normal weather conditions. In 2010 (the most recent year with data available), there were nearly 15,000 road fatalities in daytime under normal weather conditions. In contrast, there were around 2,000 in the rain both during the day and night and around 750 in the snow including day and night hours.
Why is driving in perfectly bright weather conditions on roads that aren’t slippery or wet dangerous?
Perhaps because people tend to let their guard down and assume they don’t need to be particularly alert when there are no weather or lighting issues affecting the roads.
It’s during these hours that traffic calming is the most important. Speed trailers, radar signs, or flashing beacons are all effective in reminding drivers to focus on the roads, even when there is no apparent danger. Speed humps, tables, and cushions compel drivers to slow down and save lives in the process.
When everything seems fine and drivers forget to focus on the roads, traffic calming makes sure they drive safely. Radar signs or speed humps on your roads can help avoid accidents before they happen.