The holidays are traditionally a time when more people are on the road. Christmas shopping, high school kids enjoying their break, people hitting the road to visit family, people in from out of town, and folks still in their daily routines; all add up to put more traffic on the streets this time of year. This year, we don't have the usual winter weather to contend with. Instead, we can add rainy forecasts to that mix, and what we get is a recipe for a greater possibility for accidents. With this in mind, we want to help you get through the holidays accident-free, so we have compiled a few tips for safe driving in the rain.
Bald tires and wet streets are a bad combination. Without proper tread, you are less likely to get any traction with the road as you drive. Without traction, you are more likely to hydroplane. Hydroplaning is what happens when the water between your tires and the road has no place to go and your car begins to slide. When your tires have the proper tread, that water is properly dispersed into the grooves of the tread, allowing your tires to maintain contact with the road. Generally, you want more than 2/16ths of an inch worth of tread depth to help avoid hydroplaning. A good way to see if you have more or less than 2/16ths of an inch is the penny test. The penny test is where you take a penny and stick Lincoln’s head into the tread. If the tread doesn’t cover at least to Lincoln’s eyes, you should replace your tires.
Check your wipers
Most people in the automotive industry recommend changing your wiper blades in the spring as winter weather extremes usually cause the most damage to them. But, if you are hitting the road in the winter, you may not want to wait for spring. Extreme weather conditions cause damage to wiper blades, and in South Louisiana, extreme weather can happen at any time of year. Excessive heat in the summer can cause the blades to crack. Leaves, pine needles, or other debris getting caught under the blades can also cause damage. If you see streaks of water or smeared water left behind after the blade passes across the windshield, you should change them immediately.
Always use your headlights
The general rule is: if your wipers are on, your headlights should be on as well. But, it doesn’t hurt to run your headlights before it starts raining as there are times where the sky doesn’t darken enough to cause you to realize that your headlights are needed. Even if the sky isn’t dark, the rain affects other drivers’ ability to see you. **Of course, you need to remember to turn your headlights off when you reach your destination. No one wants a dead battery for Christmas.
This may seem like common sense, but it is important to keep in the front of your mind. Since rain affects both visibility and traction, it is important to drive a little slower. While we’re on the road, we can develop a false sense of security with all the safety and comfort features of our vehicles. But, when it’s time to react quickly, the conditions outside your car are still there and still a very real threat.
Leave more distance
This is another seemingly obvious and easy step to follow, but is vitally important in bad weather. Going back to the tip about tire tread, as you have a risk of hydroplaning, leaving extra distance between you and the vehicle in front of you is imperative as it gives you more opportunity to slow to a stop rather than risking skidding, sliding, or hydroplaning.
Be safe this holiday season. While we would like you to choose Medine’s if you get in an accident, we’d rather you avoid the accident altogether.