Tips for Driving in Heavy Rain

Regardless of your driving experience, driving in heavy rain can be challenging. To help you prepare, follow these tips below on how to drive safely should you get caught in these driving conditions.

Start With the Basics:

  • Make sure your lights are on – front and back.
  • Leave extra room between you and the vehicle ahead of you, double the normal amount is a good rule of thumb.
  • Drive in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you.
  • Slow down as needed so that you can see far enough ahead of you and have time to react.
  • Never use cruise control.

You’re at a greater risk of losing control of your vehicle on wet roads as the initial rain mixes with oil and debris on the roadway. Once that washes away, or is covered by standing water, high-speed increases your risk of hydroplaning which can cause you to lose control. Once you slow down, so you can better judge the severity of the storm.

Take Control

  • Do not use your brakes if your vehicle starts to hydroplane. Instead, take your foot off the gas pedal, and look and steer where you want the vehicle to go until it regains contact with the road.
  • Drive closer to the middle of the road where possible as most roads are graded to slope towards the outside lanes.
  • Avoid following large vehicles too close as their spray can reduce vision.
  • Avoid using your brakes unless needed.
  • Look as far ahead as possible, so that you can slow down by coasting when needed.
  • Never attempt to drive through water that is moving across the roadway if you do not know how deep it is – even a seeming amount of shallow water can sweep you off the road.
  • If you approach standing water, drive through slowly and be prepared to turn back if water reaches the bottom of your vehicle doors.
  • Do not drive off-road and avoid dirt or gravel roads during heavy rain. These roads can quickly become too soft for many vehicles and leave you trapped.

When It’s Time To Pull Off The Road

If you continue to have trouble seeing after slowing down, or feel unsafe or uncomfortable driving, pull off the road at a safe location.

  • Do not park next to trees, utility poles, or other objects that may either attract lightning or fall on your vehicle if struck.
  • Avoid the base of steep or unstable slopes and low areas prone to flooding.
  • If you must pull off at the side of the road, pull off as far as possible and turn on your hazard lights.

Outdoors enthusiast, can often be found on back roads heading into back country. Travel by bicycle, truck or transit, and passionate about supporting AMA's work to help people travel safely and confidently, no matter their mode of choice.