We have seen our fair share of wet weather this summer in Morgantown. According to Weather Underground, since June 1, we have seen 34 days with rain and an overall rain accumulation of 9.75 inches. This weather has definitely had an effect on the safety of the drivers and their passengers on the road.
When it rains, the water accumulates on the road and the friction that helps your car maintain traction is reduced. This makes it more likely to hydroplane or skid. However, many people do not know the roads are the most slippery during the first few minutes of rainfall.
Why is that?
During good weather, oil and grease from the cars on the road falls to the surface and accumulates. These substances remain on the road until the next rainfall. In intersections where cars are stopped for longer amounts of time and there is more traffic flow through that area, there is more accumulation. This, when it first starts to rain, is typically the slickest part of a road. When it begins to rain, the water mixes with the oil and grease making the roads slicker and more hazardous. This only becomes more dangerous the faster the car is traveling. The risk from slippery roads remains for around 10 minutes, depending on the intensity of the rain, until the slippery substances are washed away.
What do you do?
Be prepared for wet weather when you are on the roads. This includes keeping your windshield wipers in good condition, tires inflated correctly, and maintaining good tire tread. In addition, know that when it is raining you will need to use your headlights and drive slower than you normally would. You will also need to keep a greater length between you and the car in front of you, because it takes longer to stop during wet conditions.
If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake suddenly. Slowly take your foot off of the gas until your car slows and you can tell your tires are touching the road again. If you need to brake, you can either lightly pump your brakes if your car does not have anti-lock brakes (ABS) or brake normally if your car does have ABS.
If you find yourself in a skid, gently take your foot off the gas and steer the car or truck into the skid. If you have ABS you can brake firmly as you turn. If your car is not equipped with ABS do not apply your brakes.
Each year many people are harmed due to driving in rainy conditions. According to the Federal Highway Administration there are on average 595,900 crashes each year due to the rain. Therefore, knowing how to avoid dangerous situations and where hazards are likely to exist can help prevent accidents in future rainy weather.