Rain, wonderful rain! Central Kentucky is finally getting some much needed rainfall. However, roadways are particularly dangerous to drive on after a period of dry conditions followed by rain. When you drive after rain, you should be aware that the surface of the road is covered in a thin film of water, oil, and grease which can reduce your traction and cause your car to skid. It is important to drive slowly and stay focused, to prevent accidents which may cause damages, injuries, or loss of life.
More accidents are caused by rain than any other type of inclement weather. Poor weather conditions contribute to 22% of all auto accidents each year. In 10% of all car wrecks, rain was a contributing factor to the accident and in 16% wet pavement was a contributing factor. There are several reasons why rain causes more vehicle accidents than any other weather conditions.
Rain makes for slippery roads, especially following a long period without rain. This is because greasy substances like lubricants and oil drip from cars as people drive. When it hasn’t rained in a while, these substances accumulate on the surface of the road. The first rain brings these oily residues to the surface and mixes with them on top of the road. These oil slicks create extremely slippery road surfaces which can make driving especially dangerous.
If you drive after rain, you need to be aware that the oily residue can interfere with your ability to drive, turn and brake, especially at high speeds. These oil slicks may not look any different from plain wet pavement, but they make it far more difficult for tires to maintain traction. If you drive in rainy conditions -- reduce your speed, increase your following distances and avoid braking hard.
Hard rain can also result in standing water on roadways or deep puddles. These conditions can cause hydroplaning, where a vehicle essentially skims across the water without traction to the road.
Poorly drained roads can be covered in huge pools of water which may not seem deep or serious until you are driving through them and lose control of your vehicle.
The best practice is to avoid puddles whenever possible and drive slowly through them if you must. Also, never drive through deep standing water. Even shallow standing water can be extremely dangerous.