By Marcus Fernandez
Rainy season in Tampa is not a myth used by locals to scare visitors away during the summer. It’s real and peaks during the summer months, but August is generally the rainiest month of the year.
Driving on wet road surfaces after a heavy downpour is dangerous. Of the 28,021 road crashes last year in Hillsborough County, about 17% of them occurred during July and August. Here, to help you stay safe on wet roads, is advice about getting your car ready for rainy weather and five tips for driving on a rainy day.
Get your car ready for rainy weather
When driving on dry roads on a sunny day, you need to see where you are going, be seen by other drivers, and have the ability to stop to avoid crashing into other vehicles or debris on the road. Heavy rain and wet roads add challenges that your car must be prepared to meet to keep you and others safe from accidents.
Check the following things on your car to get ready for the rain:
- Windshield wipers. Check to make sure they operate properly. Replace worn wiper blades when they leave streaks or fail to remove water from the windshield. Don’t forget to replace you rear wiper blade too.
- Brakes. Regularly check and service your brakes to ensure they smoothly stop the car. Replace them as recommended by your mechanic.
- Lights. Drivers usually think of their car’s headlights as making it possible to see when driving at night, but they are just as essential when driving during rainy daytime weather. Headlights and taillights make your car visible to other vehicles, particularly during torrential downpours.
- Tires tread. Replace your worn tires. Steering and stopping depend on traction, which is impaired when they lack the proper tread depth. There is a wear indicator visible within the tread grooves. If your tread is level with the top of the indicator, you need new tires.
- Tire pressure. Under-inflated or over-inflated tires can adversely affect steering in all weather conditions that you encounter, so periodically check the tire pressure.
Make certain to keep a flashlight with spare batteries, emergency road flares or reflectors, booster cables and a raincoat or plastic poncho in the trunk in case of an emergency.
5 rainy day driving tips
Before starting a trip in the rain, check traffic and weather reports to learn about traffic congestion and road flooding along your route that may cause delays. Leave early to give yourself extra time to get around flooded roadways, if possible, or to allow for traffic congestion.
Once on the road, adjust your normal way of driving to accommodate rainy weather with these five driving tips:
- Adjust your speed to the weather and road conditions. When driving on wet roads you cannot drive at the posted speed limit. Rainy conditions require longer stopping distances and make it difficult to maintain control over a car. Slowing down gives you more time to react in an emergency. It also reduces the risk of hydroplaning, which happens when you lose tire traction because of the layer of water between the tread and the road.
- Keep headlights on while driving. Headlights during the daytime increase the ability of other motorists to see your car, which is why it is the law in Florida to turn your headlights on when you turn on your windshield wipers. Turning on your headlights also turns on the taillights, which may keep another vehicle from rear-ending your car.
- Keep a safe distance from other vehicles. This tip applies in all weather conditions, but it takes on even great importance when it’s raining. Give yourself enough time to brake or steer by leaving more distance than you would normally need on a dry road.
- Stay alert and in control of your vehicle. Turn off the radio and your cellphone. Keep distractions to a minimum to allow you to concentrate on the road and maintain control of your car.
- Avoid flooded roads. What may appear to be a large puddle blocking the road may be too deep for your car to safely get through without flooding your engine or passenger compartments. If you are unsure about the depth of water on a roadway, do not drive through it.
If you do not feel safe driving during heavy rain, find someplace safe to pull over until it lets up.
Know your rights when in an accident
You may be entitled to recover personal and property damages if another motorist causes an accident. Learn more by speaking to a Tampa personal injury attorney.