Safe Driving Tips for Florida’s Rainy Season

Summer is here and while that brings plenty of sunshine to the “Sunshine State” it also brings sudden, intense rainstorms, tropical storms or depressions, and the possibility of hurricanes.

Driving in heavy rain or wind conditions can increase the potential for a dangerous situation for you, your family, and others on the road. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are more than 900,000 automobile accidents every year caused by wet road conditions.

Below are five tips to help you stay safe this rainy season.

  1.    Slow Down: Speed limits are designed for ideal driving conditions, but rain conditions are less than ideal. Slowing down is the only way to keep your vehicle from hydroplaning, which is caused by tires gaining more traction on the layer of water on the road than on the actual road itself. One of the most dangerous times to drive is soon after it begins to rain, as oils on roadway make for slick conditions. Waiting a few minutes, rather than rushing to your destination, can be the safest plan when it is raining.
  2.     Turn on Your Headlights: It is the law in all 50 states to turn on headlights in low visibility and many states also require you to turn on your headlights when the windshield wipers are in use. Your headlights make it easier for other cars to see you. While many cars come equipped with running daytime lights, it is important to turn on your headlights during a rainstorm so that your tail lights are also on, helping to make you visible from all sides. You do not need to turn on your bright lights or hazards. These brighter lights reflect off the water on the road and shine brighter in drivers’ eyes. Well-working windshield wipers, tires, and brakes are also crucial to safe driving in rain.
  3.      Drive Alert: Many people drive subconsciously, even for a few seconds, out of habit. They are comfortable in their daily commute and may be less alert than when driving in unfamiliar areas. Severe weather demands your undivided attention. It is important to stay alert and focused on the road during storms, with a firm grip on the wheel, free of distractions like radios, other passengers, and phone calls.
  4.       Don’t Go in Too Far: Wet roads can be deceiving. Some asphalt is not as compressed and others, making it look dry on the surface even though it is soaked with water. This makes roads slick and braking more difficult. If water is covering the markings on the road, it’s too deep to drive on. Cars can easily get stuck in puddles with no way out. A driver can lose control of their car with as little as three inches of water on the road. Wet roads make hydroplaning easy: all you need is one-twelfth of an inch of rain and a speed of at least 35 mph to lose control of your car. If you begin to hydroplane, let off the accelerator slowly, and steer in the direction you want to go until you regain control.
  5.     Know When to Rely on Technology:  Cars are being made with more standard safety features than ever before, but sometimes the technologies we rely on to keep us safe during normal driving conditions are not advisable to use during bad weather. Don’t depend on features like cruise control or forward collision warning systems in the rain. The weather may affect these systems’ sensors and reduce their reliability. On the other hand, traction control features, electronic stability control, Antilock brake systems, anti-skid control, and lane-keeping assist features can potentially be useful in the rain. These features can prevent the wheels from slipping on wet pavement and help the driver maintain control when stopping or accelerating.

Summer rainstorms in Florida are almost unavoidable and can appear out of nowhere. You may be heading to work or back home after a long day and therefore cannot help but drive in the rain. Allow more time to get to your destination throughout the Summer months and give yourself a good distance between you and the car in front of you. More space between cars provides a cushion in case your car doesn’t stop as quickly as you’re used to in dry weather.  

Drive slow, drive safe, and enjoy the Summer.