Tips for Driving in the Florida Rain

Despite Florida’s abundant sunshine, it rains almost daily during the rainy season from June to August.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 21 percent of vehicle crashes each year involve hazardous weather. These crashes account for about 16 percent of all vehicular deaths.  Approximately 70% of all rain-related crashes happen on wet roads. However, 48% occur while it is actually raining. Only 18% of weather-related crashes happen during snow or sleet.

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Wet roads and rainy weather conditions are common but serious driving hazards. The risk is greatest when it starts to rain because while drivers may slow down in heavy rain, they may not do so in light rain. Even during the periods between rainfalls, oil and grease build up on the roads. The sun shining on the roads may keep the oil and grease in a liquid state.  When there is a slight layer of water on the roads, the grease and oil may rise to the surface of the water, creating a dangerously slick surface.  Even a light rain may affect road conditions, visibility, or how your tires perform. All drivers have a duty to drive safely. Rain and wet pavement increase the chance that a driver may lose control, so it is important to know how to drive safely in rainy conditions.  

Here are some tips that will help you drive better in wet weather.

Make sure your car is in good condition

Always make sure your car is properly serviced and maintained for all weather conditions. Before driving the car for the first time each day, take a few minutes to check your tire treads, headlights, taillights, and turn signals. For example, replace windshield wipers as needed to ensure good visibility. Tires need to have the proper tread are working to their best ability. For driving in Florida, look for tires rated high for hot and humid weather.  Repair or replace any worn or malfunctioning items promptly.

Drive at an appropriate speed

It is essential to travel at a speed appropriate to the weather conditions, not necessarily just within the speed limit. The posted speed is the maximum speed for driving under perfect conditions. It may be too fast to drive safely in wet or rainy conditions. Therefore, plan ahead and allow more time to get to work on a rainy morning. Do not use cruise control, as you may lose control of your car. Also, be careful to leave extra space between cars. Leave at least five seconds of following distance between you and the car in front. Avoid hard braking and sudden movements as much as possible. When driving in wet weather, the driver must be fully engaged.

 Know the roadway

Roads are constructed to withstand different weather conditions in different areas. Therefore, if you are unfamiliar with the roads in a certain area, use extra caution. In addition, you should pay attention to your route. For example, you may need to travel through low-lying underpasses or other areas prone to flooding. If the water level on the road is too deep, your car may begin to float, take on water, or be washed away.  Check depth gauges if possible and know the roads you’re driving on. If you’re not sure how deep the water is, seek an alternate route.

Know how to handle a skid

If your car skids or hydroplanes, don’t panic. If your car starts to skid, continue to steer in the direction you want to go. Slamming on the brakes makes it harder to control your car. Hydroplaning means that the tires will ride up on top of the water like a pair of water skis and lose all contact with the road. If this happens, calmly and slowly take your foot off the accelerator. Then carefully turn the steering wheel in the direction your car is moving while hydroplaning and wait for the tires to reconnect with the road’s surface.

Ensure maximum visibility

Be sure to turn on your headlights. If your windshield wipers are on, then your lights should be on. Your headlights will help you see better during the rain. They will also make it easier for others to see you. If your windshield is fogging up, turn on your front and rear defrosters to improve visibility. Florida’s law requires the use of headlights when it is raining. In addition, as of July 2021, drivers who are on the road during a major downpour can use their hazard lights under certain conditions.

If you are driving in Florida, you will probably have to drive in the rain eventually. Even if you are confident of your driving abilities, you should always drive defensively. Other drivers may be unable to control their cars in wet or rainy conditions. For more information or a free consultation, call (561) 845-2510 or contact us online.