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Driving in the Pacific Northwest Rain

The PNW has seen a fair amount of rain in the past few weeks.  Rain, hilly terrain, and heavy ground saturation can build up to create bigger challenges than normal commuting brings us on a daily basis.  Driving in the rain is no fun. The visibility is poor, the roads are slick. All you want to do is get to where you’re going and off of the wet roads. Not surprisingly, rainy days are some of the most dangerous days to drive. The road conditions are adverse. Other drivers often don’t know how to safely control their vehicles.

Driving in the rain doesn’t need to be as difficult or scary as it initially seems. Follow some basic tips for safe driving to make operating a car in the rain a safe and comfortable experience. It’s worth noting that many of the other drivers you encounter on the road may not drive as comfortably and safely in the rain as you will. If you can avoid driving in extremely adverse weather conditions, it’s probably a good idea to do so.

The most important things when driving in the rain are to give the road your undivided attention and to not drive unless you are completely comfortable. If you do these two things, and follow these guidelines, you’ll be just fine in the rain.

Make sure that your tires are good for rainy weather. The part of your vehicle that is most impacted by wet roads is the tires. Tires are responsible for creating traction and keeping your car in contact with the road, and when the road is slippery, their job becomes more difficult.  If your tires are worn out and don’t have much grip, you’ll be a liability on wet roads, and that will put you and others on the road at risk.  You don’t want that!  

Keep your car well maintained with regular inspections. It’s important to always follow your maintenance schedule. This is especially important when the weather turns bad. Faltering brakes or a dead battery when the roads are wet is not the optimal time.  Most drivers want to get off of the highway as quickly as possible on a good day; you definitely don’t want to be stuck in an inoperable vehicle on a terrible day.  

Make sure your windshield wiper blades are new or like new. Windshield wiper blades need to be replaced now and then. If not, they will start to warp or become dull, and they’ll be ineffective at wiping rain off your windshield.  Wipers get a fair amount of use in the PNW, so replacing them leading into the dark and rainy season should be high on your list.  Santa usually has them in stock, so know your make and model to make sure you don’t have to make a return.  

Always keep both hands on the wheel while operating your vehicle. The biggest danger when driving in the rain is that you’ll hit a pitch of water and hydroplane. Hydroplaning usually jerks the steering wheel in one direction or the other. Ensure that you have both hands on the wheel at all times to keep it from turning sharply.

Use your headlights. Rain can make it difficult for oncoming traffic to see you. Always keep your headlights on, even if it’s the middle of the day.  In some states it is the law to have headlights on while driving!  This is for everyone’s safety.  

Roads become much more slippery when it is raining. That means your car doesn’t have the best traction. Driving your normal speed increases the chance of losing control of your car.

Rain also may increase your stopping distance when applying your brakes. Avoid tailing other drivers too closely so you know you’ll have enough stopping distance.

The holiday season will likely bring gatherings and obligations back for all of us to enjoy spending time together.  These tips will surely help you enjoy time with loved ones safely. We, at Rolf’s Import Auto, want to wish you a joyful, safe, and prosperous holiday season.  Enjoy the ride, wherever the road takes you.  

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