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The Car Guy: How to Drive in the Rain (Part 2)

Here are some more tips to help you maintain control of your vehicle when the weather turns wet.

Last week I discussed .

Here is the follow-up to that column, in which I offer some more advice to help you stay safe whenever the roads become wet.

  • Avoid distractions

It's not a good idea to be on the phone while driving (and in some places it is illegal). This is true for driving when it is dry, and especially true for driving through any precipitation. A good driver is always aware of his/her surroundings. Not only should you use your straight line of sight (what you are looking at directly), but you should also use your peripheral vision.

  • Use extra caution when tackling hills

Hills should be maneuvered differently when roads are wet. It is a lot harder to stop suddenly on a downward slope than it is when the road is flat. If there is a car stopped in front of you, try to slow down earlier than you would if the road were dry. Otherwise you could hit the other car.

Driving uphill can be dangerous as well, especially if there is a stop required. One such slope occurs at the intersection of Leithsville and Apples Church roads in Lower Saucon Township. I have seen numerous vehicles become hung up here when it's wet out, because their drivers hit the accelerator too hard in order to "beat" oncoming traffic. The driver whose tires begin to slip at this particular intersection has usually moved out just far enough that his car's nose is extended into Leithsville's southbound lane of travel.

  • Don't drive around on bald tires

The main purpose of a tire is to give a vehicle the best traction under all circumstances. Tires that are bald are worthless and should be discarded. Everyday driving requires the use of good tires with a tread pattern that distributes water out from underneath the tire. Bald tires don’t do this and are dangerous, even on dry pavement.

Tire manufacturers place markers within the tread of the tire that allow the car owner to know when it’s time to get new tires. Once the tire on the outside of the tread pattern is flush with this marker, you should start to think about replacing them. If you are unsure how to check, bring your car to an automotive repair shop and ask them to check for you. Any reputable shop will be glad to help you, especially if there is a chance they could put some new tires on your car.

The tires you buy should be of decent quality. Most tire companies make very good tires with a good tread pattern. Make sure you follow the advice of your mechanic and try to get the best tires you can afford. I bought a set of good tires more than four years ago and they are still on my Jeep.

  • Make sure your brakes are in good shape

Brakes are important in any circumstance. Always try to make sure your brakes are in good shape. If you drive through an enormous puddle (though I don’t recommend that you do that) it’s a good idea to tap your brake pedal a couple of times to help clean the water off, just in case you need to stop fast.

Richard Berkheimer September 20, 2011 at 12:14 PM
I've read both of your articles, and I like what I see. Sometimes I feel like I need to start a driving school. I only hope you continue giving advice to Lehigh Valley drivers throught winter aswell because it is frightening that some people don't know, or understand the basics of driving in winter weather!
Joshua Gillem September 21, 2011 at 01:14 AM
Richard, thanks for the kind remarks. I do see a lot of scary things on the road, and driving isn't really that hard. I plan to give driving advice during the winter months as well, that's when it gets a bit tricky.

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