Tips for driving safely in the rain

The US Department of Transportation reports that 24% of car crashes are weather-related.  Roughly three-quarters of these accidents are the result of wet roads and drivers traveling in rain.  There are several tips that drivers should know to avoid becoming a statistic.

Drivers should allow extra time to reach their destination if rain is in the forecast.  Once on the road, they're advised to slow down and leave extra space between their vehicle and the one in front of them.  Also, driving in the tire tracks of the car ahead can help increase traction and avoid skidding.

If hydroplaning does occur, though, it is important to stay calm.  If you feel that your tires have lost contact with the road, ease off the accelerator. Brake slowly and steer smoothly in the direction you want to travel.  Avoid sharp movements or braking quickly.

Always drive with low beam headlights turned on, even if rain is very light.  If you no longer feel comfortable driving in the rain, pull over as far from traffic as possible.  Keep your lights on and turn on emergency flashers as well.

"In the rain, it's critical to have good tires on your car," advises Mike Davis of University Tire and Service.  "Pressure is important, tread depths are important, and if you're driving in the rain, obviously wiper blades are important."

Mr. Davis recommends that windshield wipers be changed every six months or so and that tire tread and inflation are checked routinely.

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