Precipitation in Illinois for the month of June this year was 5.33 inches above the average making June 2015 the wettest on record in Illinois. The forecast for July is higher than average precipitation, but not necessarily record breaking. Umbrellas, raincoats and rain boots have been an almost everyday necessity in Chicago this year, much like our cell phones, briefcases and lunch packs. For those who commute, the rain brings longer commute times, heavier traffic and potentially unsafe driving conditions, not to mention a stressful drive.
Heavy rain can create situations where your car may hydroplane. Your number one priority is to arrive safely at your destination. In order to protect your safety and avoid costly damage to vehicles or property, here are a few guidelines to follow:
Vehicle maintenance is crucial to safety.
- Regularly check the air pressure in your tires. Underinflated tires increase the risk of hydroplaning and require more stopping distance.
- Regularly check the tread on your tires. Worn treads are the leading cause of hydroplaning.
- Regularly check your wiper blades. If they are old or brittle, replace them. You need to see clearly when driving.
- Regularly check your headlights, brake lights and turn signals to make sure they are working properly.
Take extra precautions when driving in the rain.
- Slow down.
- Leave sufficient space between you and the vehicle in front of you. The standard 3-second rule is not enough distance for wet driving conditions.
- Turn on your headlights to help you see the road and allow other drivers to see you more easily.
- Stay in the middle lanes. Water tends to accumulate in the outside lanes. Anyone who has driven the Bishop Ford can attest to that!
- When driving through a puddle, go slow and proceed with caution. You do not know the depth and water higher than the bottom of your door can cause serious damage to your car’s electrical system and affect the performance of your brakes. After driving through a puddle, proceed to drive slowly and brake lightly until your brakes dry out as they may have become saturated with water.
- Oil and dirt mixed with rain cause extremely slick spots, particularly at intersections. These spots are more treacherous at the beginning of the rainfall until the water has washed the oil and dirt away.
- If possible, do not drive during heavy rain or thunderstorms. If you are on the road and visibility becomes limited, pull over, turn on your hazard lights and wait it out.
- Remember that your shoes may be wet from the pavement and may slip off the pedals. It is best to wipe them on your floor mats before proceeding to drive to remove the moisture.
Remain calm when hydroplaning.
- Always try to remain calm so you can think clearly and avoid danger
- Do NOT hit the brakes if you hydroplane, this could exacerbate the situation and cause you to spin out.
- Do NOT use cruise control in heavy rain. You are less likely to lose control of your vehicle if your cruise control is turned off.
- If you have front-wheel drive:
- Do NOT swerve
- Head for an OPEN AREA
- PUSH LIGHTLY ON THE GAS
- If you have rear-wheel drive:
- Do not swerve
- Head for an OPEN AREA
- EASE OFF THE GAS
Just remember, all this rain could be snow. Until then, be safe and try to stay dry. Maybe summer in Chicago will arrive in all her glory soon.