With a heavy rain and strong winds bearing down on the Northeast, AAA wants to remind drivers to be extra safe on the roads. When the roads are wet, we all need to exercise extra caution—and some specialized skills—behind the wheel. According to U.S. Department of Transportation over 3,400 people are killed and over 357,300 people are injured in rainfall-related crashes.
Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that moderate to heavy rain affects a vehicle safety system’s ability to “see”, which may result in performance issues. During closed course testing, AAA simulated rainfall and found that test vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking traveling at 35 mph collided with a stopped vehicle one third (33%) of the time. Lane keeping assistance didn’t fare any better with test vehicles departing their lane 69% of the time. Vehicle safety systems, also known as advanced driver assistance systems or ADAS, are typically evaluated in ideal operating conditions.
Wet conditions present challenges to drivers regardless of whether their vehicles are equipped with safety systems. AAA recommends using extra caution in slick conditions and provides these driving tips to stay safe on the road:
- Avoid cruise control: This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car’s speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged. Avoiding cruise control will also allow the driver more options to choose from when responding to a potential loss-of-traction situation, thus maximizing your safety. Cruise control can also cause hydroplaning.
- Watch for hydroplaning: No car is immune from hydroplaning on wet surfaces, including four-wheel drive vehicles. With as little as 1/12 inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway.
- Be wary of changing wind conditions: Wind gusts often accompany stormy weather. Larger trucks are more affected by high winds, so give them plenty of room on the roadways.
- Make yourself visible: WIPERS ON – LIGHTS ON. Make yourself visible when its raining. In many states it’s the law. If you are forced to stop in traffic due to poor visibility, turn on emergency flashers immediately.
- Slow down, move over: With wet pavement conditions, it’s important for drivers to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them and beginning to slow down to stop for intersections, turns and other traffic early. In addition, drivers need to slow down and move over for roadside workers, including emergency roadside service and first responders, law enforcement and construction workers, as well as stalled vehicles.
- Remember to make sure your severe weather emergency kit is fully stocked and in your vehicle before the storm arrives.