1. When that puddle was deeper than it looked.
So I’m watching this video as the driver hits some water and spins out. At that point I feel for her—it’s happened to me too.
Life tries to help her out by pointing her car back toward high ground. But the driver has a different plan. I’m not sure if it was stubbornness or just being frazzled by the spinout, but this driver took driving in the rain from bad to worse.
Moral of the story? Don’t be a pioneer when it comes to flooded roads. Roads that dip under bridges are especially prone to flooding. Don’t risk it. Find another route.
2. When a driver didn’t see a stopped car until it was too late.
I used to work at a police station, and by far the most common driving violation I saw was failure to maintain assured clear distance. Or in plain English, not leaving enough room ahead of your vehicle to come to a stop if you need to.
This video only shows one vehicle—the one that ended up in a river. But it got there because the driver saw another vehicle stopped on the road (because of the water), slammed on the brakes, hydroplaned, and slid down the river bank.
Moral of the story? Driving in the rain reduces visibility and stopping power. Slow down, keep your eyes peeled, and leave enough room in front of your vehicle in case you need to brake.
3. When the posted speed limit isn’t the speed you should be going for the conditions.
I’m a Michigan driver. So if I’m in the passenger seat and the driver’s plodding along at a snail’s pace in the fast lane, I’ll probably say something snide.
Often I get the old “It’s a speed limit, not how fast you need to go.” (To which I very maturely counter with “Oh shut up.”)
But when it’s rainy, I sing a different tune. I’m all for plodding when it’s pouring, because in these instances the speed limit really can be too fast for safe driving. As was the case below, about which the trooper stated “The passenger car lost control on the wet roads. From our estimate speed was a factor.”
Moral of the story? The speed limit is the maximum speed allowable in ideal driving conditions. If conditions aren’t ideal, drive accordingly. If you think you’ll make better time speeding, think of how much time (and money) an accident sucks up.
4. When drivers think their truck, SUV, or all- / four-wheel drive makes them invincible.
My Juke has all-wheel drive. I love it, and it’s a big help in the winter. But even with all-wheel drive and winter tires, I got in an accident a few winters back. No matter how badass you think your car or driving skills are, Mother Nature can always one-up them.
Exhibit A: SUV versus standing water.
Moral of the story? Don’t let overconfidence cloud your judgement. Nobody is immune to accidents. Sure, certain vehicles may handle certain conditions better than others, but a false sense of security is dangerous.
5. When drivers buy two new tires and put them on the front of the car.
This is test track footage, not a real-life collision. But I think it’s important to show you how big a difference it makes whether you put newer tires on the front or back of your vehicle.
Now I have been to Michelin Laurens Proving Grounds, done this exact exercise, and can confidently say: the best tires go on the back. Always.
“But my car ha—“ No. “But what abou—“ No. Best to the back. Don’t believe me?
Stop with the “even ifs.” No matter if your vehicle is front-, rear-, or all-wheel-drive, a pickup, a sporty car, or an SUV: If you buy only two new tires, you should put them on the back.”
Rear tires provide stability, and without stability, steering or braking on a wet or even damp surface might cause a spin. If you have new tires up front, they will easily disperse water while the half-worn rears will go surfing: The water will literally lift the worn rear tires off the road. If you’re in a slight corner or on a crowned road, the car will spin out so fast you won’t be able to say, “Oh, fudge!”
Tire Industry Association:
While the best practice is to replace all four tires, when replacing only two tires, the new tires should be installed on the rear of the vehicle.
Driving in the rain doesn’t have to be a disaster. So replace your tires if they’re worn, watch where you’re going, slow down, and don’t take any chances.
Got any wet driving tips (or cautionary tales) of your own? Share ‘em in the comments!