Driving in Rainy Weather

Jamie Nakasone
August 08, 2018

It’s hurricane season in Hawaii and that means rainy, windy conditions. We’re so used to sunny weather that rain can sometimes stop us short. When those drops start falling, routine tasks like getting the mail become unpleasant and we try to remember where we tossed the umbrella. And when we have to drive in bad weather, our usual confidence behind the wheel can get rattled. 

According to AAA, wet roads contribute to almost 1.2 million traffic crashes yearly. The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) urges drivers to educate themselves on how to prepare for rainy weather and exercise safe driving practices. Here are a few tips from AAA and HDOT to avoid crashes and other dangerous situations in rainy weather.

Be prepared 

  • Check all of your car’s lights. Don’t’ forget about turn signals, emergency flashers, and interior lights.
  • Rain impairs visibility, so make sure your windshield wipers are working and your windows and mirrors are clean. If your windows fog up, run the air conditioner to reduce humidity.
  • Check your tires regularly to reduce chances of hydroplaning and skidding. Put a penny inside the tread with Lincoln’s head down. If you can see all of his head, it’s time to replace your tires.
  • Check weather and traffic reports on an app or the radio before you drive.

On the road

  • Turn your headlights on, even in daylight. You’ll be able to see the road better and other drivers will see you.
  • Keep your distance. On slippery, wet pavement, your vehicle should be two to three times farther than normal from the car in front of you in case of skids. If you lose control, don’t slam on the brakes. Instead, apply the brakes with steady, light pressure and steer in the direction of your original path. For cars with anti-lock brakes, apply heavy, steady pressure, but don’t pump the brakes.
  • Stay in the center lanes. Outside lanes can be hazardous because water tends to collect at the curbside.
  • Don’t use cruise control. Using cruise control in these conditions may hinder your response time should you need to adjust your driving quickly.
  • Don’t drive through flood waters. Even one foot of rushing water can carry away a small car, while two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.

Beware of potholes

  • If you have to hit a pothole, slow down. Hitting a pothole at high speed increases the chance of damage to your car.
  • Beware of pooled water on the road. Puddles can conceal a deep pothole. Even one severe pothole can damage your car’s suspension.
  • Don’t brake directly over a pothole. Breaking over a large pothole causes the car’s weight to shift and may result in greater damage to your car.


Next time those drops start to fall, remember these tips for the protection of your passengers, your vehicle, and others on the road.

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