Everyone drives in the rain at some point during the year, and everyone knows rainy conditions, overcast skies and wet pavement make the perfect recipe for unsafe driving conditions.
A 10-year study of car crash causes conducted by the Federal Highway Administration found that 22 percent of vehicle crashes were weather-related. Of those crashes, 73 percent were related to wet pavement and 46 percent were linked directly to rain.
How can you avoid becoming part of another year of crash statistics? Take a few simple steps to stay safe while driving in the rain.
Maintain wiper blades
Since your wiper blades are your primary tool for maintaining your field of vision while driving on rainy days, it's obviously important to keep them in tip-top working condition.
Rain-x suggests replacing your blades every six months to a year depending on how frequently you use them and whether they sustain damage such as metal corrosion, cracks in the rubber squeegee's edge or a broken wiper frame.
You may also notice signs of wiper wear and tear including:
You can extend the life of your wiper blades by cleaning your windshield every time you get gas and occasionally cleaning your wiper blades with a damp paper towel to get rid of dirt and build-up.
Replace worn tires
Helping to maintain traction in rainy conditions is the main purpose of your tire tread. When the tread is worn to less than 4/32 inch, you increase your risk of hydroplaning or slipping when your tire comes in contact with damp pavement.
To test the depth of your tire tread, Consumer Reports suggests inserting a quarter into a groove of your tread. If George Washington's head is flush with the tread, you've hit the magic 4/32 inch mark. Less tread than this is a warning sign that your tires are past due for a change.
It may be just a sprinkle, but any amount of precipitation after a dry spell can be enough to drastically increase the risk of tire slippage while driving. Drivers should decrease their speed by five to 10 miles per hour when it's raining or while roads are still wet. Also important to keep in mind is that you can be pulled over for driving too fast for conditions even if you aren't driving faster than the posted speed limit.
This is because dry conditions allow dust and oil to build up on road pavement. When the rain starts falling, it mixes with the substances already there, creating a perfect slippery storm. Once the rain has been falling for a while, the risk of slipping actually decreases unless puddles begin forming on roadways and the risk of your tires losing contact with the pavement increases.
Increase your following distance
There are no prizes for driving hazardously in rainy conditions. On normal, dry days with ideal driving conditions, safe drivers should maintain a three-second following distance between themselves and the car in front of them. This gives you enough time to perceive and react to the lead car's change in speed.
On rainy days, however, most experts suggest increasing your following distance by about two seconds, giving the car in front of you a five-second lead. There may be a car or two that will sneak into that wide gap, but your goal isn't to win any races; it's to arrive at your destination safely.
However, even the most cautious driver can end up in a car crash through no fault of his or her own. Accidents can happen and victims need an attorney they can trust. The attorneys at Ed Bernstein & Associates have more than 40 years of experience in personal injury law and understand its finer nuances. Visit edbernstein.com or call (702) 240-0000 to find out how to get started on the road to recovery.