As April warms up, jet streams carry along heavy precipitation. Rain is a welcome visitor in the Southwest, but it’s rarely seen and people are often caught unaware in sudden deluges. Roads are designed with inclement weather in mind, but that doesn’t make them foolproof. The greatest aid to your safety in rainy weather is you. Keep these tips in mind as monsoon season approaches for safe driving:
- Check your windshield wipers and windows. A clean windshield, both inside and out, will prevent raindrops from sticking to debris and obscuring your vision. Clean windshield wipers will effectively remove rainwater from the windshield, clearing your field of vision and ensuring that you can keep a watch on the road and your surroundings. By cleaning your windshield wipers and replacing them every 6 to 12 months, you prevent scratches from damaging your windshield. Before taking any trip in poor weather, ensure that headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are all functional and visible.
- Stay towards the center of the road rather than veering towards the shoulder. Most roads are constructed to have a peak in the middle. While the difference is only slight- an incline of a few degrees at most- it allows for rainwater to collect and run away from the center of the road. This keeps the water from puddling on the main road surface. Water does collect towards the shoulder, so it’s a good idea to stay as close as safely possible, within your lane, to the center of the road. Puddles can conceal pot holes or hazardous materials that could damage your tires or the body of your vehicle.
- Avoid water on the engine block if at all possible. If your vehicle runs into water ranging in depth from a foot or more, the engine block itself could be affected. Try to park your car on elevated ground, in a garage or on a sloping surface so water doesn’t accumulate beneath it. Should you find yourself in water deeper than a foot, shut the car off immediately. Even a completely submerged engine may still be salvageable as long as no power is sent through it while wet. If a car won’t start after you’ve moved it away from low-standing water, it’s possible the lowest electrical connectors became wet. Allow the car to dry completely before attempting to start it, and if you have any concerns, contact a mechanic immediately.
Collisions are the most dangerous aspect of inclement weather. The heaviest rain tends to be short-lived, so during periods of extreme rainfall, pull over safely to the side of the road and turn on your flashers. Heavy rainfall limits visibility and makes road surfaces slick, so it’s best to wait the rainfall out until visibility has been restored. As rarely as we see rain here in the Southwest, it’s a pleasant change when it comes. Following these tips will ensure that it remains so by allowing safe enjoyment of the weather.