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Sep 25, 2018

6 min. read

It may not be time to put the winter tires on just yet, but we’ll soon be seeing the leaves start to change, the temperatures fall and more rain in the forecast.

This combination of falling leaves and cold and wet weather presents a whole new set of challenges for drivers who are still used to the last several months of bone-dry roads and sunny skies.

With the changing season just around the corner, we thought it was the perfect time to offer up some handy driving insights and tips as we move into fall.

Slow your roll.

It pretty much goes without saying but a helpful reminder never hurts. Also, with new and returning drivers taking to the roads every day, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this incredibly important tip.

Slow. Down.

It takes far more time to come to a stop on rain-slicked roads. Those are just the facts. It’s recommend that you stay at least two cars apart, where possible.

And don’t forget to plan ahead. That way you can allow yourself more time to get to your destination without being tempted to increase your speed.

Traffic on a highway in a foggy day.

Slippery when wet.

The most dangerous time for driving in wet weather is shortly after the rain begins. There may only be a very thin layer of water on the roads, but dirt, oil and grease from the asphalt float on top of this water which creates a very slick and slippery surface. If drivers aren’t careful and driving slow, they can hydroplane (when your vehicle’s tires ride up on a thin surface of water, losing contact with the pavement). This can be a very dangerous situation! The best way to avoid hydroplaning is to slow down and avoid large puddles of water (when it’s safe to do so).

If, despite your best efforts, your vehicle begins to hydroplane, you should:

  1. Stay calm and don’t panic.

  2. Try to keep the wheels aimed in the direction that you want to go.

  3. Take your foot off the gas and then shift into neutral and brake very gently, so you don’t lock the wheels.

  4. Once you feel your tires are in solid contact with the road again, shift back into gear to pick up speed. If you completely lose control of the vehicle, the best thing to do is line the wheels up straight and press as hard as you can on the brakes until the car comes to a stop.

A man and woman driving a car on a rainy day.

Put the ‘brakes’ on using cruise control.

It’s one of those amazing features that we love, especially for long road trips. But it is not advisable to have your cruise control on or in use while driving in wet and slippery weather. In fact, it can actually increase your chances of hydroplaning because it maintains the existing speed that you’re driving at that time.

When it’s wet, you need to be constantly monitoring the road, traffic, and adjusting your speed based on the conditions around you. That’s why we recommend you should ensure that your cruise control is turned off.

A man is holding a steering wheel in a car.

Leaves, puddles and potholes.

Autumn foliage looks so pretty. But once the leaves descend to the roads, they often cover up traffic and pavement signs, not to mention, make the streets slipperier. They also obscure potholes and other road hazards.

Speaking of potholes, fallen leaves aren’t the only things that camouflage these structural failures on our roadways.

Puddles can be just as bad. You often have no way of telling how deep a puddle actually is. Or if it’s even a puddle and not a giant pothole!

If you have to drive through (what you hope) is a puddle, go slow.  Water can wreak havoc on a modern car’s electrical system resulting in serious damage.

A car is parked on a street with leaves on the ground.

See and be seen.

Visibility is always an issue during wet weather. Most newer cars feature bright, daytime running lights. Low beams also work.

The most important thing about using your headlights is that you get to see the road around you better and that other drivers can see YOU!

A car driving on a rainy road at night.

Overall you want to be extra cautious in wet weather.  If you slow down, avoid using cruise control, watch for bunches of leaves, puddles and potholes and stay highly visible to other drivers, you’ll arrive where you need to be, dry and safe.

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