How To Drive Safely in Heavy Rain

Strong Tie Insurance November 16, 2020 Commercial Truck Insurance

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), over 5,891,000 vehicle crashes occur every year. Over 20% of these crashes are due to adverse weather with the vast majority occurring on wet roads from driving in rain. A commercial vehicle is particularly vulnerable to the effects of wet weather.

Fully loaded tractor-trailer trucks can weigh close to 80,000 pounds. To drive safely with this amount of weight behind you requires skill and practice. Add wet roads and driving in the rain, and those that are inexperienced can find themselves jackknifed or in a rollover.

Let’s take a look at what professional drivers do when they drive in rain to avoid being one of these statistics and discuss tips for safe driving during wet weather conditions while on roads.

Check Important Parts of Your Vehicle Before Driving in Rain

It is important to keep in mind that before you even drive on the road, make sure your vehicle or truck is prepared for driving in the rain. Check these important parts to avoid finding yourself in treacherous conditions, and make sure your commercial insurance is up-to-date.

  • Tires. Tires are what connect your vehicle or truck to the pavement, so make sure they are in good condition before you go. This includes checking the tread as well as ensuring they are fully inflated. While some recommend letting air out to gain traction on wet roads, a fully inflated tire performs optimally.
  • Windshield Wiper. Visibility is a key consideration when driving in the rain. Inspect your wipers for wear or consider replacing them to ensure they are working at their best.
  • Headlights & Taillights. When rain is heavy, vehicles can be almost invisible without their headlights on. Advance Drivers reported on a well-known truck driver, Ryan Douglas Dorius, posting this, “This is what the mirrors on a big truck look like in the rain. I’m a hundred feet long and sometimes can’t see half that far back, so if you don’t have your headlights on, I can’t see you!”
  • Brakes. Get your brakes checked regularly. Properly maintained brakes can mean the difference between stopping in time or colliding with a car in rainy weather.

Tips for Driving Safely in the Rain

Fortunately, despite bad weather, there are tips to check that professionals use to help make driving in the rain safer and collision-free.

Let’s take a look at the top 13 tips for driving in rain safely.

Drive Slower

Safe driving means maneuvering your car or commercial vehicle at a speed that’s considered safe for the current weather conditions and not lose control. During rain events, that speed may be much lower than the posted speed limit.

Schneider, a transportation and logistics provider, recommends taking at least 5 mph off the posted speed limit for each of these occurrences: weather, curve, light trailer, and heavy traffic.

Turn Headlights On

Daytime running lights do not provide enough light during a rain event. You’re not turning on your headlights so that you can see better, but so that others can see you.

So, one of the best tips for driving is turning on your headlights also ensures your taillights are on. And while we’re on the topic, don’t use your brights lights as they will reflect off wet surfaces and make it more difficult to see.

Don’t Use Cruise Control

When you use cruise control, you lose the feel of the road. This lessens the chance that you’ll react quickly to hydroplaning, a condition that occurs when tires lose contact with the pavement and ride upon a thin sheet of water.

Reducing your speed by lifting off the accelerator is impossible when cruise control is engaged.

Don’t Use the Jake Brake

Using the Jake Brake, also known as the engine brake, on wet roads due to rain can result in loss of traction.

Know What To Do if You’re Hydroplaning

If you feel yourself losing control and starting to hydroplane when you drive, simply take your foot off the accelerator and gently try to steer in the direction you want to go. Sudden braking or a quick jerk of the steering wheel can cause you to lose control and go into a skid.

Keep in mind that oil and debris rise up during the first 10 minutes of a heavy downpour, making slippery conditions even worse. Ao

Increase Following Distance

Driving in rain decreases even the best driver’s confidence. Drivers may slow down if they hit a puddle of water when a sudden deluge of rain falls from the sky, or if visibility suddenly worsens.

Big rigs take much longer to stop than cars. At highway speeds, they require about two football fields of distance from another car for safety.

Turn Around Don’t Drown®

The Turn Around Don’t Drown® program was launched in 2003 and trademarked by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2004.

Since then, countless lives have been saved by simply turning around instead of driving into a flooded area.

Change Speeds Gradually

Sudden acceleration or deceleration when you’re driving can result in loss of traction. Truck drivers need to learn this important fact early in their careers — that in order for your tires to maintain contact with the road, they must displace a gallon of water every second if there is even as little as 1/12 inch of water on the road.

Turn On Your Defroster or Safety

Turning on your front and back defrosters help keep your windshields from fogging. In addition to the loss of control, reduced visibility is one of the main reasons accidents occur during rainy and wet conditions.

Drive in the Middle Lanes

Water tends to run toward the outside lanes and form pools. Stick to the middle lanes, if possible for safety — this is one of the most excellent tips for driving.

Turn On the Windshield Wiper

While this tip for driving in wet conditions seems apparent, you’d be surprised how many people turn their windshield wipers on and then off again because they are smearing the water across the glass, instead of wiping it away. This is due, of course, to worn-out windshield wipers that should have been replaced before takeoff.

Avoid Heavy Breaking

Before the arrival of the anti-lock braking system (ABS), drivers were instructed to pump the brakes in wet, slippery conditions. Nowadays, and if your car is equipped with ABS, it is safer to apply steady pressure when you need to stop or slow.

Pull Into a Rest Stop

Keep in mind that in certain road conditions, it is simply not safe to drive. Windshield wipers or even the best car lights cannot keep up with torrential rainfall. When low visibility becomes a hazard, pull into a rest stop or parking lot until the downpour lessens.

Find the Right Commercial Insurance

Even when the best driver is behind the wheel, vehicle accidents happen, especially in bad rainy weather. Comprehensive commercial insurance provides several types of insurance including motor truck cargo, physical damage, liability, and annual roadside assistance.

Many operators are surprised at the low cost of such comprehensive insurance. For a no-obligation quote, contact us at Strong Tie Insurance today.