Driving Through Showers (cont’d)
On the Highway
Leave ample room between you and the car in front of you, because it will take longer to stop in the rain. In dry weather, you should use the three-second rule to determine a safe following distance. Look for an object or feature on or near the side of the road as a reference point, and when the car in front of you passes it, start counting “one one-thousand, two one-thousand…” If you pass the same object before you complete “three one-thousand,” you’re following too closely. In poor driving conditions, add at least one more second for each weather condition encountered. For example, rain and fog would add two more seconds to your following time.
Safe driving using these rules for following distance won’t add much time to your trip. According to CarTipsandMore.com, a study of sales people driving from Philadelphia to New York – a 100-mile trip – found that using these rules added only two minutes to their drive time.
Recovering from a Skid
Losing control of your vehicle on a wet, slippery road can be a harrowing experience. But this hazard can be avoided if you take it slow and steer and brake with a gentle touch. If you do find yourself sliding off the road, take your foot off the gas and look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. If your car has antilock brakes, brake firmly; if you don’t have anti-lock brakes, avoid braking while recovering from a skid.
Intersections can be dangerous because oil deposits build up in places where vehicles start and stop frequently. Places like Newfield, NJ (near the CollisionMax of Glassboro auto body shop) have spots that create additional hazards when rain starts to fall because it lifts the oil out of crevices in the road surface. This is a very dangerous skid mixture. Use extra caution when approaching intersections in the rain.
Pedestrians who are fiddling with umbrellas, slickers and galoshes can be distracted and not as observant as usual when crossing the street in the rain. Allow for this extra element of danger when approaching pedestrians in a rainy intersection or along the roadway.
Driving in the rain at night requires close concentration, because you might not be able to tell difference between a wet road and a flooded road. Hitting a flooded road at full speed can produce the same effect as hitting a brick wall — you can lose control and come to a violent stop, risking injury to yourself and your passengers.
In a perfect world, we would simply sit out bad weather and drive in optimal conditions. But tight schedules and demanding jobs keep us on the go no matter what the weatherman says. Just remember that when rain hits take it slow and give yourself plenty of extra time to arrive safely.
Hydroplaning takes place when your vehicle’s tires lose contact with the road surface and ride on a thin layer of water. At high speeds this is the equivalent of driving on a sheet of ice.
There are three primary factors that contribute to hydroplaning:
•Vehicle speed. As speed increases, wet traction is considerably reduced. This can result in a complete loss of control.
•Tire-tread depth. Worn tires lose their ability to resist hydroplaning.
•Water depth. Traction is lost sooner in deeper water.