Rainy Weather Driving Tips

Date: September 30, 2009

Expect rain, overcast skies through the weekend,” reads the headline of a September 30, 2009, article in The Oregonian. Locals may be so used to similar weather predictions that the standard reaction might be, “More rain? What else is new?”

But a late-September downpour demonstrated that rain can cause serious traffic hazards. During the morning rush hour, heavy rains created slippery conditions that resulted in eight crashes, as well as a number of fender-benders and innumerable close calls. Portlanders on their way to work found themselves sitting in stalled traffic while the wrecks were cleared.

Those who know traffic best also know that rain can cause serious accidents. Commenting to The Oregonian, Christina Miles of the Oregon Department of Transportation said, “This happens every year at this time – more wrecks. People need to slow down and relearn how to drive in the rain.”

But what’s so difficult about driving in a little rain, anyway?

As it turns out, plenty. One problem is that the first rainstorms of the season tend to pull motor oil, grease, and dirt from where it has accumulated on the road. This makes the road slick, not just wet. In addition, water on top of asphalt can cause tires to lose traction. To top it off, rain decreases a driver’s ability to see clearly, reducing visibility through its effect on windshields and headlights.

So what do you do to stay safe on soggy Portland days?

1.    Slow down.
2.    Be aware.
3.    Brake early.
4.    Did we mention slow down?

And if things go from bad to worse, pull over until the storm blows through.

For more information about driving in wet conditions, check out these websites:
Tips for Driving In Rain (SmartMotorist.com)
Weatherize Your Passenger Car for Rain (Weather.com)
Tips and Techniques for Driving in Rain (Edmunds.com)