After dealing with a rough winter, driving in the rain might seem like a breeze. But hold onto your hat. Weather and road conditions are major contributors to heavy truck accidents. The good news is you can take a few precautions to help make your wet-road driving safer and less stressful.
1. See and Be Seen. Before you start out for the day, take some extra time to ensure all of your lights, including clearance, turn signals and brake lights, are working properly. You want to make sure other vehicles see you in that cloud of spray.
2. Don’t Fear The Wiper. Age and ozone kill wiper blades. If yours are cracked or leaving obvious streaking, replace them – and not just the driver’s side. New wiper blades make a world of difference in a downpour.
3. Enlarge Your Space. Try to allow extra space around your rig as you drive, since brakes and steering won’t respond the same way. And if the rain is accompanied by wind gusts, be extra cautious. This may mean driving more slowly than usual to compensate.
4. Traction Action. Make sure your tires are up to snuff. Do they still have visible rain sipes? Are inflation pressures not only correct but consistent across axles? If you realize that the tires are starting to hydroplane, ease off the throttle until they regain traction. The first few minutes of a downpour are usually the most dangerous, with oil residue mixing with water on the pavement.
5. Be Prepared. Just like a good boy scout, you should be extra alert when you drive, since you never know how other drivers are going to react or over-react when the roads get slick. Avoid distractions like food, music and phone calls when driving. Check weather forecasts before you go. And make sure you’ve got a good rain poncho for when you stop.
In general, it all comes down to preparation, visibility and traction. Take a few precautions to help ensure that you’re the safest one on the road.