Spring has finally sprung in our chilly corner of the Midwest — and while the return of green grass is a welcome change from winter’s icy winds and blankets of snow, it also means rain. April showers certainly do bring May flowers, but they also make for dangerous driving conditions.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, driving in the rain is actually more dangerous than driving in the snow! Believe it or not, 46% of weather-related crashes happened during rainfall over the past 10 years, while only 17% occurred in the snow. Although many people are certainly just more likely to stay home during a bad snowstorm, the statistics are also explained by the fact that the majority of drivers don’t adjust their driving habits to these hazardous conditions.
How should you prepare for the weather this season, then? Here are our top tips.
Prep your car.
Tire tread is extremely important for wet road conditions. To see if your tires are good to go, take a quarter and insert it upside down into your tire tread. If you can see the top of Washington’s head at any point, you have less than 4/32 inch of tread left, and it’s time to replace your tires.
Additionally, be sure to check your tire pressure regularly. Make sure your windshield wipers, headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals are working correctly to make your vehicle more visible during a storm.
Road traction declines significantly when wet — it’s about 1/3 more slippery than a dry surface! A good rule of thumb is to decrease your speed by about 1/3 as well to make up for the change in conditions.
Back off of the car in front of you.
This should go without saying, but leave plenty of space between the front of your car and the back of the car in front of you. This will give you enough time to stop suddenly if necessary, even on a wet surface without typical traction.
Know which technologies are helpful — and which aren’t.
Technologies such as cruise control or forward collision warning systems can oftentimes be negatively impacted by wet weather, reducing their reliability.
On the other hand, traction control is a great thing to have on a rainy day — it will help your tires from slipping on the wet pavement. Antilock braking systems (ABS) can also be helpful on rainy days to allow you to keep control of your steering wheel during hard braking. Finally, anti-skid control and lane-keeping assist features would be a great backup to rely on if all else fails in dangerous conditions.
Know how to handle your car in a hydroplane.
If you find yourself in this situation, gently take your foot off the gas — it may transfer the weight of your car to the front tires to help gain contact with the road again. If this doesn’t work, try gently pressing the brakes. Whatever you do, though, don’t try and steer out of it. That could take you off the road or into a lane of oncoming traffic.
Your Lindow agent is here for you
Generally speaking, you should always be on the lookout in less-than-perfect weather. Our hometown agents know the ins and outs of making it through every Midwest season, and we’re here for your family. If you want more information or have questions about your current auto insurance coverage, be sure to reach out to us!