Get a Grip: Wet Weather Driving Tips

You can't predict every hazardous situation down the road, but it's a safe bet you will have to deal with rainy weather. Rain and fog can make it difficult for you to see road signs, obstacles, and other vehicles. On wet roads, you can lose control when wheels spin or lock due to loss of traction.

A little preparation can make a big difference in how you and your vehicle perform in bad weather.

Reduce Your Risk

Driving in wet weather can be stressful, so it makes sense to minimize any other risk factors. Try to postpone your travel if you are also facing a long night drive, or if you are angry, upset or fatigued.

Foul weather gear can be cumbersome. Remove bulky coats and gloves before you get into the driver's seat.

"Waterproof" Your Vehicle

Rain, slush and mud are hard on your vehicle. Be prepared for the rainy season by thoroughly checking your tires, brakes, heating and cooling system, battery and ignition system, wipers, and lights.

Head Into the Storm, or Wait It Out?

Driving in the rain is often most dangerous in the first 10 minutes of heavy downpour. When rain initially begins, it brings oil and debris to the surface of the road and the ground does not have time to absorb the moisture. This makes it more likely that cars will hydroplane, skid, or get stuck in the mud. If you can, delay you travel for a few minutes.

Review Your Wet Weather Driving Skills

You've prepared your vehicle, so it is roadworthy even in bad weather. You know you should remain aware of road conditions and reduce your speed. What else can you do to minimize your risks?

Brush up on your response to wet weather driving risks:

  • Steer around an obstacle rather than braking, if possible. In wet weather, sudden braking can put you into a skid. Review the push-pull-slide method and fixed-hand method of steering.
  • Do not rely on cruise control in wet weather.
  • Control speed and avoid hard braking and sharp turns to reduce your risk of hydroplaning and skidding.
  • Increase your following distance. Focus your attention as far ahead as possible - at least 20 to 30 seconds.
  • If you become stuck, and you are driving a vehicle with manual transmission, rock your way out by using second gear.
  • If you become stuck, and you are driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission, use low gear. Move forward until the vehicle stops, then shift into reverse and move backwards until momentum stops. Repeat this process using minimum power to prevent wheels from spinning and digging in deeper.
  • If necessary, create traction by using mats, gravel, or kitty litter.

Want More Information?

  • Your AAA club can provide additional information and educational materials about driving in adverse weather, including vehicle checklists and detailed descriptions of evasive maneuvers.