Once winter fades away – taking ice and snowy conditions with it – it’s easy to think that dangerous driving conditions are behind us. But before May flowers come April showers, and driving in the rain can be just as perilous.
For some help navigating slippery roads, we asked AAA experts for their best wet-weather driving tips.
Check Your Tires
“Tire condition is the most important factor,” said John Paul, AAA’s Car Doctor. “If your tires are worn to less than 4/32 inches of tread, replace them. Worn tires require a much longer distance to stop in wet weather.”
According to AAA research, driving on worn tires at highway speeds in wet conditions can increase average stopping distances by 43 percent, or an additional 87 feet, compared to new tires. And make sure to keep your tires inflated to proper levels. Underinflated tires don’t displace water as well, making driving in wet conditions more dangerous.
Slow and Steady
“Take it slow in sudden rainstorms – the first 10 minutes of a downpour present the highest risk for hydroplaning,” said Jason Carrara, manager of technical program training at AAA Northeast. “At speeds above 40 mph, vehicles can hydroplane.”
Traction is reduced by 30 percent on wet pavement. Most roads have a crown that sends water to the right and left lanes, so stay in the center lane to reduce the risk of hydroplaning.
Spring brings an abundance of potholes, which can be both hazardous and damaging to your car. If you’re unable to avoid a pothole, slow down before reaching it.
“Brake before the pothole and release before impact,” said Carrara. “Less severe damage occurs when a tire is rolling over a pothole than when it’s skidding over one.”
Also remember that puddles can hide deep potholes in the road.
Snow and ice can damage wipers, so check them carefully in the spring.
“Replace wipers every six months or sooner if they start to leave streaks when you wash your windshield,” Paul said. “AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities can suggest and replace new wipers for your vehicle.”
Also examine your windshield for sand/salt blasting. If you have any cracks, get your windshield replaced, as changing temperatures can worsen them. When driving, turn headlights on anytime you turn wipers on to aid your visibility.
Find more spring driving tips. AAA.com/CarsTrucks