Driving too fast for road conditions is a common cause of accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Roughly 1.4 million fatal crashes were attributed to weather conditions from 1975 to 2000. While people might think that driving during the winter is the most dangerous time that is not actually the case. Icy or snowy roads may deter many people from traveling, leading to a reduction in traffic fatalities. Rain can pose a substantial threat to drivers. The American Auto Association reports that wet weather leads to 1.2 million crashes every year.
April marks the beginning of the rainy season in Chicago. Whether the roads are wet with rain or with melting snow and runoff, there are steps you should take to reduce your chances of getting into an accident. First, do not tailgate. Tailgating is a bad idea on dry roads, in broad daylight, when you focus is entirely on the car in front of you. In wet conditions, tailgating can be disastrous. The rule of thumb is to stay four seconds behind the car in front of you on a wet road. However fast you are going, four seconds' worth of time to react is a minimum.
Another important consideration for wet weather driving is the condition of your tires. Improper inflation and a well-worn tread can greatly increase the distance required to stop your vehicle. You should check your tire pressure to make sure it matches the manufacturer's recommendation. You should also check to see if you sufficient tread if your tires are older. Old tires need to be replaced.
Remember that a posted speed limit represents the maximum safe speed a vehicle can travel in good conditions. You can get a speeding ticket even while going slower than the speed limit, if the conditions make that speed unsafe. In the rain, the posted speed limit might far exceed the limit of safety. Don't wait to skid or hydroplane before adjusting your speed for wet conditions. By then it may be too late.
As always, the best ways to avoid an accident are to think clearly, be alert for signs of danger and drive defensively. Wet roads can be managed with proper precautions.
Source: Direct Auto & Life Insurance, "Wet Weather Driving Tips for the Spring,"