Driving in rain

The main hazard from driving in rain, aside from reduced visibility, is hydroplaning. If your tire pressure is wrong (and you haven’t checked using the gauge in your car bag), you will be at higher risk of hydroplaning.

If you start to hydroplane on a wet road, you will notice because your car suddenly starts drifting off in a random direction in which you did not tell it to go, usually with the back end swinging out.

The thing you absolutely must not do: touch the brakes. Unfortunately, that is nearly everyone’s first reaction, and it results in disaster; at that point the car will spin and you have completely lost control.

Instead, what you should do is to try to steer the wheels gently so they are pointing straight down the road. So if your car starts spinning left, you would gently turn the wheel to the right to keep the wheels pointing straight in the direction you want to go.

You don’t want to over-correct; you don’t want to under-correct. In practice, it’s very hard to get the wheels straight because your car has lost traction and does not respond to what you are doing. But if you have a lot of driving experience you will probably have a sense for how much you need to turn the wheel to keep the wheels straight in the direction of travel (even as the car spins).

If you do get the wheels straight, congratulations, your car will likely stop spinning in the direction it was spinning, and start spinning in the other direction (called fishtailing). Don’t worry, that is normal, now you just have to correct in the opposite direction to keep the wheels straight. You might fishtail several times. But each time you do you will be slowing down which increases the likelihood that you will stop hydroplaning and resume driving as normal.

You might object: “but if I can’t touch the brakes, what happens if I’m about hit something?” To be sure, that is a problem. For that reason, it is best to never to hydroplane on a curve.

A note on windshield wipers: every once in a while, the rain will come pouring down and you will suddenly realize that the wipers do not work; or that they barely work; a that the vehicle does not have wipers.

Do not panic! Although we have become accustomed to driving with windshield wipers as a matter of course, it’s surprising how much you can still see even without the wipers on. Give it a try – it won’t be comfortable, but it might be good preparation for that day when the wipers really do go out, and you have to drive a little bit before you can stop safely.

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Some people enjoy driving in rain, although there is a risk of hydroplaning. Photo by the author.