The forecast calls for rain, and it’s time for a refresher on how to drive in the rain.
Here are tips from Nico Rondet, chief instructor at the Simraceway Performance Driving Center at Infineon Raceway at Sears Point:
First, there is no fundamental difference between driving in the rain and in the dry. The laws of physics remain the same! The BIG difference is that it brings the threshold lower, so low, in fact, that all the bad driving habits now become a problem. When you are well below the limit (the adhesion limit that is), you can get away with almost anything. The sad reality is that nowadays,, we don’t get to learn how to drive but how to behave on the roads. Nobody tells you what a car really can do and how does it behave at the limit. The problem is that as cautious as you may be, one day or another you will get in trouble, likely on wet, snowy or icy roads and then what to do???
In a nutshell, the MOST important thing a driver should do when it rains, is to check the only contact point between his/her inputs and the road — the tires. Check that they are in good shape and not worn out, then check that they are inflated at the right pressure for the car. That number is found either on the door of that car or manual, NOT on the sidewall of the tire. On the sidewall of the tire is the maximum pressure for that tire, which is suited for the maximum load possible for that tire and very unlikely is your car even close to that. A few years back, statistics showed that 50% of the cars on the road in the U.S. had at least one tire under inflated by at least 5psi. 5psi is totally enough to alter the handling characteristics of your car and more so enough to make your car more prone to hydroplaning because the rolling surface of the tire becomes slightly concave, trapping the water under your tires rather than expelling it, which means that your car turns into a boat but without a rudder. Of course, that gets worse rapidly with higher speeds so slowing down helps but as you start braking it gets worse again.
Replace you windshield wipers when the rainy season arrives. Rubber dries out, and you would be amazed how much new wipers will improve our visibility. I also like to to apply something like RainX on my mirrors. It really impoves that rearview visibility.
Now the obvious, but it unfortunately still needs to be told! Pay attention to the road! Leave that cellphone alone. Better yet, turn it off during your travel so that you don’t get distracted/tempted by it ringing. Most days I ride a motorcycle, which gives me a high view into the cars next to me. The number of people holding their cellphones in their hand and talking on speaker or even trying to text etc. still amazes me. The law forbids the cellphone to ear uses, but the reality is that as soon as the driver is on the phone, he/she stops scanning the road, and just looks straight ahead — a clear sign of passivity.
Painted lines become very slippery as well as manhole covers. Smoother inputs are necessary, particularly the throttle application. Last but not least — a rude reality around our county — a puddle can often hide a hole bigger than expected, in which it might be easy to get a blowout. The last thing you want is to be stranded on the side of the road.
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