6 Essential Tips to Increase Your Safety

While winter weather causes many to prepare for driving in snow and sleet (and that preparation is important), the government’s analysis of weather-related accidents and injuries points out that it’s driving on wet roads, not pavement. snowy or icy, leading to the highest percentage of crashes and injuries.

When we look at the big picture, the government data makes a lot of sense. Only certain parts of the country ever drive in snow, and even then, there isn’t snow on the ground every day of winter. On the other hand, much of the country drives in the rain at least occasionally during the course of the year, increasing the chances of an accident.

Driving on wet roads: what the data says

The aforementioned government analysis was carried out over the course of a decade. Of note is data from the Federal Highway Administration showing that more than 20 percent of vehicle accidents that occurred between 2007 and 2016 were weather related (1.2 million). The report found that the vast majority of those crashes occurred on wet pavement and during rain: 70 percent on wet pavement and 46 percent during rain.

Government data leads us to believe that we need to be more mindful when driving on wet roads. Below are helpful tips you can use to be better prepared.

wiper control
To increase your visibility while driving on wet roads, replace your old wipers and fill the washer fluid reservoir.

home precautions

Here are some simple things you can do at home to increase your safety.

#1: Check your windshield wipers and headlights

Make sure your windshield wipers and headlights are working properly and replace them if necessary. If your windshield wipers are unable to remove precipitation effectively, or if your headlights have difficulty illuminating the road, this can increase the chance of a crash. And if you have an SUV, be sure to check out the rear wiper as well.

#2: Fill Wash Fluid

On wet pavement, even when it’s not raining, the cars in front will throw all that dirt onto your windshield. New wipers will help, but remember to keep your washer fluid reservoir full.

#3: Check Your Tire Tread Depth

Tires are the only contact between your vehicle and the road, so if they are not in good condition, your chances of hydroplaning will increase. A AAA investigation a few years ago found that even driving on relatively worn tires at highway speeds and on wet surfaces can increase stopping distances by nearly 90 feet, about the length of an average eighteen-wheeler.

To check tread depth at home, do the “penny test.” Take the penny, flip it over, and place it in the tread of your tire, so Lincoln’s head goes first. If you can still see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace his tires.

Also Read:  Cooper Tires Review (2023)

Based on the chart below, if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tires are between 3/32 and 2/23, which means they need to be replaced. Remember, the type of tire you buy is just as important as the brand of tire you are buying.

Tire Tread Depth Chart - Tips for Driving on Wet Roads.

Driving on wet roads: tips and advice

If you can avoid it, try to avoid traveling if the weather is bad. However, since that’s not always possible, here are three tips if you encounter wet pavement.

#1: Slow down

The Department of Transportation recommends reducing the current posted speed limit by 1/3 when driving on wet pavement, as stopping distance is less predictable than on a dry road. One of the main causes of hydroplaning is speed, so the slower you go on wet pavement, the better.

#2: Avoid hard braking

While driving on wet roads, take your foot off the accelerator so your vehicle slows down naturally. Since modern vehicles are equipped with anti-lock braking systems (ABS), it is not necessary to “pump” the brake pedal if you must stop suddenly. With ABS, push the brake pedal all the way down, hold it, and let your vehicle do the work. You will hear and feel a vibration, but this is normal.

#3: Leave plenty of space

Your vehicle’s ABS will prevent the wheels from “locking” to help you maintain steering control. Remember that ABS may or may not shorten your overall stopping distance, so it’s even more important to check the tread depth of your tires. Be sure to keep a safe distance from any vehicle in front of you so that you have enough time to react in the event of a sudden stop.

Driving on wet roads: conclusion

While the attention we pay to snow may be justified, we must pay just as much attention to driving on wet roads. More often than we realize, we encounter wet pavement, and as statistics have shown, they are often dangerous. Follow the tips above to help ensure your safety.

Richard Reina is a longtime automotive industry analyst and Automoblog’s resident expert on the collector car market. He likes to restore and drive vintage cars with a special love for all things Italian. Richard is the author of The Collector Car Hobby, a guide to finding and enjoying the classic car of his dreams.

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