What “Driving Carefully in the Rain” Means to Me

Here’s what I do when driving in bad weather like this week’s rainstorms:

  • Drop my usual speed 10-15 MPH, maybe more if conditions are really bad.
  • Don’t use cruise control.
  • Leave more space between me and the car in front of me. Be prepared to slow down if someone merges between us.
  • Turn on my headlights.
  • Keep an eye out for standing water on the road. Try to avoid large puddles if possible, slow down (but not too quickly) if not.
  • Stay in the rightmost lane if I’m one of the slower cars on the road.

I actually always drive with my lights on, day and night, good weather and bad. This is because years ago our local traffic newspaper columnist Mr. Roadshow had columns which noted two things: First, that driving with your lights on all the time runs only about $3 per year (probably all the way up to $6 with higher gas prices), and second, a trucker who said he found it much easier to see cars on the road in all conditions because nothing else really looks like a car headlight. I decided if it made it easier for truckers to see me, then it’s well worth the minuscule cost.

6 thoughts on “What “Driving Carefully in the Rain” Means to Me”

  1. One thing I discovered when driving to McCoy Stadium in miserable visibility – hazard lights make a huge difference.

  2. In this country (Sweden), because of the snowy weather and poor visibility in the winter time, all cars are hardwired so that the headlights (but not the hi-beams) are always on when you turn the the ignition. Not so in the rest of the EU as far as I know. Cars that have been imported privately from, say, Germany, are not wired this way.

  3. In Wisconsin I tried to drive with my headlights on all the time, too. Unfortunately the 1987 Civic that I owned at the time wouldn’t warn me when I’d left my lights on when getting out of the car, so I drained my battery several times (and bought jumper cables). My current car, a 2000 Civic, does chime when I open the door with the lights on, which is essential to my “always drive with my lights on” strategy. I could understand that someone whose car doesn’t chime might not want to drive with their lights on if they don’t need them, since forgetting to turn them off might be as bad or worse than driving with them off on a clear day.

    But obviously if it’s raining, you should have your lights on.

  4. Michael, your ideas about safe driving are great, especially the part about keeping your distance to the car in front. This is of course even more important if you live in a country or state with icy and slippery roads. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t share your views and keep on tailgating…

    I’ve had some close calls this winter! Almost slammed into a woman who suddenly slowed down (basically stopped!) and *changed lanes in the middle of a particularly notorious traffic circle*, which is an insanely stupid and reckless thing to do! But since I was coming up from behind, it would have been MY FAULT if there had been an accident! (I don’t know about the United States, but this is the law here I live.)

    In Europe, the law is that slow-moving traffic stays in the lane the furthest to the right (except Britain and Northern Ireland, for obvious reasons). I know that in many US states it’s OK to use the leftmost lane even if you are going slowly, and even to overtake other vehicles on the right-hand side, which is a big no-no over here, except in very dense traffic and traffic jams where you just can’t avoid it.

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