Wednesday’s rain reminded of an event from last year I wanted to share with you. My wife, Sheri, and her daughter visited a cousin who was in Kansas for a baseball tournament. Everyone had a wonderful time with the visit.
Sheri was headed home on I-35 in Kansas when they drove into a thunderstorm that blew in quickly from the west across the wheat fields. The rental car hydroplaned and spun off the interstate onto the grass beside the highway. Luckily, neither Sheri nor her daughter was hurt. The car was less fortunate and it sustained almost $9,000 worth of damage. Sheri still gets nervous when driving in the rain but does better with it each time it occurs.
How can you avoid something like this? Here are five things to remember when you next drive in the rain to improve your chance of a safe driving experience.
- The first 30 minutes: The first 30 minutes of a rainfall are the most dangerous. The initial water from the rain causes the accumulated oil dropped from our vehicles to float making the road slippery. Traction is at a premium and it’s easy to slide.
- Slow down: Slow your speed to the speed limit or slightly lower, especially when approaching puddles. This will reduce, not eliminate, your likelihood of hydroplaning.
- Avoid sudden stops & moves: Any sudden movement such as turns or lane changes can lead to your vehicle sliding or hydroplaning. The same goes for sudden stops, even with antilock brakes. Give yourself more room to stop.
- Lights & Wipers: When did you last change your windshield wipers? If you can’t remember, go do that today. Make it an annual practice say at the beginning of the year. Also turn your lights on so other’s will see you. This is a good practice all the time whether it’s raining or not.
- Tires: One of the most important safety features on any vehicle is a good set of tires. Make sure they have adequate tread and are properly inflated. This improves fuel economy, cornering, shortens your stopping distance and reduces hydroplaning.
Each one of these items improves your chances for a safe driving experience, rain or shine. And if you are wondering whether our car insurance policy covered the repairs to the rental car, I’ll answer that next week in Tuesday’s blog.