10 tips for driving on wet pavement this spring

April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring an increased risk to our daily commutes: wet roads. According to the Department of Transportation, 75% of weather-related car crashes yearly occur on wet pavement, and 47% happen during rainfall.

Below, you’ll find 10 tips on how to protect yourself against wet roads and keep yourself, your passengers, and your vehicle safe during the upcoming rainy season.

  1. Prep your vehicle for the road

Before sticking your key into the ignition, perform a quick sweep on the health of your vehicle: are your tires properly inflated? Do they have enough tread? By having enough inflation and tread, your tires will have the most traction on the pavement, helping evacuate the water between the tire and the wet road.

  1. Visibility is key

Rain can minimize visibility – especially at night. Make sure your windshield wipers work properly, cleaning the glass in one swipe with no streaks. Other vehicles will struggle to see you too, so double-check that your headlights are working and turned on the entire duration of your drive.

  1. Keep ample distance

When the weather is undesirable, drivers should always leave extra room between their vehicle and the vehicle ahead of them. Aim for a following distance of 5 or more seconds behind the vehicle in front of you to avoid following too closely, which frequently results in accidents.

  1. Avoid sudden movements

Wet pavement causes traction to decrease, and when traction decreases, there’s less wiggle room for sudden movements, like jerking the steering wheel. Drive smoothly, with gradual speed and steering changes to avoid losing control of the vehicle.

  1. Avoid cruise control

Sorry, cruise control. It’s not you, it’s the rain. When cruise control is engaged, the car won’t respond until the brake is pressed. By avoiding it altogether, you’re left with more options on how to react in a loss-of-traction situation.

  1. Slow your roll

Did you know that tires can lose contact with a wet road at just 35 mph, making it increasingly difficult to stay in control of the vehicle? Slowing down and driving at a reduced speed increases your chances of staying in control and making it safely to your destination.

  1. Know what to do if you hydroplane

Hydroplaning occurs when your vehicle’s tires float on a layer of water instead of the road. Your instinct might tell you to slam on the brakes but try to avoid this. Instead, lift your foot off the accelerator. This shifts the weight from the back of the vehicle to the front, pushing the tires onto the pavement. If this fails, press the brake gently. Should you end up skidding, keep your eyes focused on the road ahead and steer gently in your desired direction. Reducing speed is key to avoiding hydroplaning and skidding.

  1. Avoid flooded roads

Flooded roads pose a hazard to the safety of drivers, and they should be avoided altogether. Be especially cautious when driving during heavy rain at night, as flooding dangers may be more difficult to recognize.

  1. Brake gently

One of the largest reasons vehicles crash into each other on wet pavement is due to slamming on their brakes. The solution is to drive smoothly with gradual speed changes. Start braking earlier and press the brake pedal more gently than you normally would on dry roads.

  1. Keep calm

Driving on wet pavement can be frightening. When April showers start raining on your parade, keep calm in the driver’s seat, be overly cautious with your driving, and use these best practices to ensure your safety, your passenger’s safety, and your car’s safety.


U.S. Department of Transportation


National Weather Service