Five safety tips for driving in the rain

Photo+of+Oregon+State+University+student+driving+in+the+rain+on+Nov.+22%2C+2021.

By Eli Smart, OMN Photographer

Photo of Oregon State University student driving in the rain on Nov. 22, 2021.

Emma Simon, Beaver's Digest Contributor

We all know that, as Oregonians, we have to deal with a lot of rain, but that doesn’t mean we are always pros at driving in inclement weather. No matter your feelings about the rain, it can be quite dangerous if you don’t pay attention to the road. With the rainy weather picking back up again next week, here are some safety tips for driving during a downpour.

Photo of the inside of a vehicle with rain droplets on the windows on the night of Nov. 22, 2021.
Photo of the inside of a vehicle with rain droplets on the windows on the night of Nov. 22, 2021. (By Eli Smart, OMN Photographer)

1. Drive slow.

That one seems obvious right? However, a lot of people forget to do this. It is always better to take your time in the rain. You have a lack of visibility and lower traction in the rain which means, no matter how good of a driver you are, you still need to take your time when driving. Give yourself those extra few seconds to brake and you will make it a lot safer for yourself.

2. Don’t brake hard. 

This tip is important. You have less traction in the rain, meaning you cannot slam on your brakes without the potential of sliding. Take your foot off the gas sooner and save yourself and others a potential accident.

3. Turn on your windshield wipers. 

While this tip is the most obvious, it needs to be said. You need as much visibility as possible to drive. Whether you’re driving in a heavy downpour or just a light drizzle, having windshield wipers on can help you tremendously. What a lot of people dismiss is the signs that it’s time for new wipers. If your windshield wipers make a loud, distracting noise every time they sweep across your windshield, it’s time to replace them. It will amaze you what a difference it makes to have new windshield wipers installed. 

4. Keep an eye out for standing water. 

As much fun as it seems to drive through it and splash in it, standing water can also be super dangerous. Hydroplaning is a common occurrence when driving over standing water. Keep in mind that water especially tends to pool at the bottom of hills, which is also when drivers tend to be driving faster. Remember to drive slowly through standing water or to try avoiding standing water altogether—but swerving into other lanes to avoid a pool of water can be just as dangerous. Use your best judgment and don’t be afraid to go a little slower than the rest of the vehicles around you.

5. What to do when hydroplaning.

It is possible to hydroplane even when you’re careful. The best thing to do is to stay calm and let off your gas and your brakes, and steer slowly. Eventually, your tires will get traction back and you will be able to drive normally again. Do not do anything fast that can cause your car to spiral out of control and worsen an already dangerous situation—like slamming on the brakes or over-correcting your steering.

Photo of Oregon State University student driving in the rain on Nov. 22, 2021.
Photo of Oregon State University student driving in the rain on Nov. 22, 2021. (By Eli Smart, OMN Photographer)

These are just some basic safety tips to help you feel more confident in your driving skills, especially in inclement weather. Remember to be careful, use your best judgment and think about your actions before you do them.