Tips for Driving Safely in the Rain

Last Updated on May 12, 2020

Rain significantly increases the chances of an accident. Slippery roads and poor visibility are a deadly combination.

Fortunately, driving in the rain doesn’t have to be dangerous. By following some basic safety tips, you can reduce your risk and improve your safety.

Keep reading to discover the best tips for driving safely in the rain.

Tips for Driving Safely in the Rain

How to Drive Safely in the Rain – 19 Tips

If Uncomfortable, Wait for Better Conditions

There’s no rule requiring you to drive in the rain. If it’s safe to do so, pull over and wait for conditions to improve. Even if following safe driving tips, driving in the rain can be dangerous. Heavy rain could make conditions severe even for experienced drivers. When in doubt, wait it out.

Check Car Tires for Balding

Rain leads to slippery conditions even if you have good tires with lots of tread. If you have bald tires, however, then driving in the rain could cause you to slip all over the road, significantly increasing your chances of an accident. Check your tires regularly for balding. Watch for tread markers on your tires, which can appear when your tires need replacing.

Slow Down

This tip is obvious for all hazardous driving conditions. Slowing down gives you more time to prepare for what’s ahead. It also improves traction. In heavy rain, you might have limited visibility. You need every extra second of reaction time. in fact, it could be a life or death difference.

Turn On Your Headlights

Most states have laws requiring you to turn on your headlights in rainy conditions. Regardless of laws, it’s smart to turn on your headlights to improve visibility. Your headlights don’t just illuminate the road for you: they also alert other drivers to your presence. Turning on your headlights can also turn on your taillights, which significantly reduces your chances of a rear-end collision.

Use Your Windshield Wipers

This tip is obvious, yet many drivers fail to use it before it’s too late. There’s no reason not to use your windshield wipers when driving in the rain. Make sure you understand how to use your wipers, including how to set different speeds. Use faster wipers in heavier rain to ensure maximum windshield visibility.

Maintain a Safe Distance Between Cars

The more distance between you and the car in front of you, the more time you have to stop. The car in front of you might suddenly brake, giving you limited time to stop. The more room you have, the less likely you’ll get into an accident.

Avoid Heavy Braking

Heavy braking increases the chances of a rear-end collision. Brake lights don’t alert drivers to the intensity of your stop – they just tell drivers that you’re stopping. Brake lightly as much as possible.

Avoid Braking Too Frequently

Braking too frequently is a sign that you should slow down. If you brake too frequently, drivers behind you may become “immune” to the brake signal. This could significantly increase the chances of a rear-end collision if, say, you need to come to a sudden stop. The drivers behind you assume that you are continuing to brake lightly when you’re really slamming on the brakes.

Don’t Drive Through Water Unless You Know the Depth

Drivers frequently die in flooded conditions because they drive through a flooded roadway. The roadway may seem safe to drive through, but it only takes a couple of feet of water to sweep you down the road. If you’re unsure of the specific depth of the water, and if your car has a low center, then you should be extra cautious when crossing flooded roadways (or better yet, avoid flooded roadways entirely).

Don’t Accelerate While Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning can occur when driving on wet roads. However, hydroplaning doesn’t always lead to an accident. It just means your car has temporarily lost traction with the roadway. To maximize traction while hydroplaning, avoid touching the gas. Calmly take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction that the front of your car needs to go. Avoid making sudden terms or slamming on the brakes.

Run your Car Ventilation

Rain raises humidity, and that could mean foggy windshields. Foggy windshields decrease visibility even further. Run your ventilation system to reduce fog on your windshields. Change your setting to blast air at your front windshield. Make sure you understand how to use your vehicle’s ventilation system before you get on the road. All it takes is a few seconds of foggy windshield conditions with minimal visibility to cause an accident.

Turn Off Cruise Control

If you frequently use cruise control, then make sure to deactivate the cruise control when driving in rainy conditions. Cruise control can lead to loss of control in slippery conditions. Cruise control helps you stay at one speed, although if you’re hydroplaning while in cruise control, it could cause your vehicle to go faster than that, creating a safety hazard.

Take Extra Precaution When Turning or Changing Lanes

Rainy conditions reduce visibility, and that means you need to be extra defensive while driving. Be extra careful to shoulder check, check your blind spot, and use your turn signal before switching lanes or turning. Remember: even if you check your blind spot, foggy windshield conditions and low visibility can make a car invisible, increasing the chances of an accident in wet weather.

Maintain your Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers should be replaced every 6 months to 2 years, depending on how frequently you use your windshield wipers. If you fail to replace your windshield wipers regularly, then they may do a poor job of clearing water from your windshield. Bad windshield wipers can be even worse than no windshield wipers. Make sure your windshield wipers work properly and check them regularly (ideally, before it rains) to ensure they work.

Clear the Inside of your Windshield Regularly

Your windshield wipers might work perfectly fine, but you could still struggle to see your windshield in rainy conditions because it’s dirty on the inside. Spend a few minutes cleaning the inside of your windshield using a window cleaning solution and paper towel. You might not notice how many fingerprints, dirt, or other particles are on the inside of your windshield until you’re driving in poor conditions.

Dry your Brakes with a Tap

The four-wheel discs on cars can become coated with water in rainy conditions. Some cars automatically touch the pads to the rotors to remote water or add heat to the rotor to remove water. However, you can dry your brakes manually by touching your brakes gently. If you just splashed through a puddle, consider tapping your brakes to dry water from them.

Don’t Depend on Car Technology in the Rain

Smart car technology is good – but not perfect. Lane assist warnings, adaptive cruise, and forward-collision warning systems work in optimal conditions, but they may not be perfect in rainy or low visibility conditions. A forward-collision warning might give you enough space to brake during normal conditions, for example, but not rainy or slippery conditions.

Be Extra Careful If Driving in the Rain After a Hot Spell

Hot, dry conditions can cause engine oil and grease to build up on the road. If it rains after an extended hot or dry period, then all of these fluids can create a mess on the surface of the road, causing slippery conditions.

Avoid Distractions

You should always avoid distractions while driving, but it’s extra important when driving in slippery conditions. Put away your smartphone. Ignore the kids in the backseat. Don’t eat or drink anything. Focus on the road.

Final Word

Driving in the rain can be dangerous – but it doesn’t have to be. Using certain safety tips, you can minimize risk and maximize safety in wet weather conditions.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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