It’s wet and cold, drive safe

Published 7:00 am Thursday, December 7, 2017

Up until now we’ve enjoyed moderate temperatures with little rain. In addition to not needing a jacket when we left the house in the morning, that also meant driving conditions were ideal.

But Tuesday afternoon began a string of cold and rainy days that will not only prompt a change in our attire, but should also alter our driving habits.

With the combination of colder temperatures, and the recent forecast of snow, our commute to work and school will become a bit more hazardous this week.

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When driving in the rain, and especially cold conditions that could lead to snow, reduced speed is key. Even though a speed limit has been determined for a certain road, keep in mind that the limit was set for ideal driving conditions, not a wet or icy road.

Wet roads also pose another hazard, hydroplaning, especially while it’s raining. Hydroplaning occurs when the tires rise above the surface of the roadway due to a layer of water forcing the tires off the asphalt. When this happens, your tires no longer have traction and control of the vehicle can easily be lost. According to it only takes a fraction of an inch of water for a vehicle to hydroplane at speeds greater than 35 miles per hour.

The best precaution that can be taken against hydroplaning is to reducing your speed on wet roads, especially where water puddles. Having tires with plenty of tread will also reduce the chance of hydroplaning.

During ideal driving conditions, it’s advised to keep at least two car lengths of distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you. During dangerous driving conditions you should increase that distance to provide more stopping space.

Driving slower and leaving extra stopping space could cause an aggressive driver to tailgate you. Avoid the instinct to brake in an attempt to have the aggressive driver back off. Instead, wait for the aggressive driver to pass, and when they do, allow them extra space to pass safely.

And as always, drive defensively and plan for any situation that might occur in front of your vehicle, such as deer unexpectedly crossing the road.