The fall months bring us football, Halloween, cooler weather and also, hurricane season. While Long Island is not always prone to hurricanes, it does endure increased rain and storms this time of year. Driving in heavy rain and possible flooding can be very dangerous, especially if you don’t take precautions. Before you head out in the rain, make sure you’ve take some steps to ensure safety for you, your passengers and your car!
Before You Leave
- Plan your journey in advance. Ensure you avoid areas where there is possible flooding and factor in for extra time.
- Check your heater controls. Rain makes the windows mist up in seconds so before you pull out of the driveway, make sure you have the defogger on so you don’t have to be fiddling with controls on the road.
- Make sure your windshield wipers are fully functional. Old windshield wipers won’t clear water from the windshield well and could distort your view.
- Make sure your lights are on! It’s generally a rule of thumb (and the law) to keep your lights on when you have the windshield wipers on.
- Check your tires. Worn-down tires reduce traction and offer little resistance to hydroplaning. When your tires run over water, the water is displaced and needs somewhere to go quickly and usually its between your tire treads. If your tires are worn-down and “Bald” there is no where for the water to go and you can hydroplane
While Driving On The Road
- Be a focused driver while driving in rain. Keep your eyes on the road. Be careful in decreased visibility and don’t use cruise control because it can create problems if you hydroplane.
- Don’t follow any car too closely, especially large trucks and buses. The spray their large tires can cause reduces your vision.
- Avoid slamming on your brakes so make sure you have plenty of space between cars. That way when you do need to slow down, you can lift your foot off the accelerator to start to decrease speed and then slowly move down on your brakes.
- If rains get torrential, pull over in heavy rain. Sometimes rain is falling so quickly and so hard, that it can be hard to see a few feet in front of you. It’s extremely difficult to drive in this so the best thing to do is pull over and wait for the rain to slow down! Also, turn on your emergency flashers while pulled over so other cars know you are there!
- Drive slowly and cautiously through standing water. Never drive through moving water if you can’t see the ground through it. If water is deeper than the bottom of your doors or the bottom third of your wheels, don’t drive through it. You could risk damaging your electrical system. If you do drive through deep water, test your brakes afterwards. They could be saturated and to generate enough heat to dry them out, you must drive very slowly and brake lightly.
- Handling a Skid – Losing control of your car on wet road is very scary. It’s good practice to brake before enter the curve and if you do start to skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and carefully steer in the direction you want your car to go in. This is known as “steering into the skid.” For cars without anti-lock brakes, don’t use your brakes. If you do have anti-lock brakes, brake firmly as you “steer into the skid.”
- Hydroplaning – When you hydroplane, your vehicle rides on top of the water. It is very scary and can put you in immediate danger of sliding out of your lane. Hydroplaning is caused by vehicle speed (the faster you are driving, the less traction you have), tire treads depth and water depth. If you do find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake or turn suddenly. This could throw your car into a skid (addressed above). Instead, hold the wheel firmly and don’t steer in any other direction but straight ahead. Ease your foot off the gas until the car slows down and your steering is normal. If you do need to brake and don’t have anti-lock braking system, do so gently with light pumping actions. If your car has anti-lock brakes, brake normally.
When driving in rain, take necessary precautions and be sure to have a fully charged cell phone with you in case you need help in the event of an emergency!