How to Drive in the Rain

September 14, 2022
driving in the rain

Driving in the rain can be a slippery situation – slick road conditions, poor visibility and possible hydroplaning or skidding are some of the potential risks, particularly in the spring. More than 1 million weather-related crashes occur each year, most occurring on wet pavement and nearly half while it’s raining.

Smart drivers know techniques for driving in the rain, avoiding hydroplaning and using the vehicle’s safety features. Here are some tips for driving in wet conditions that you can save for a rainy day.

Safety tips for driving in the rain


It’s critical to turn on your headlights while driving in the rain, whether it’s day or night. Many states require it. You’ll see better, and other drivers can see you better too. Keep your headlights clean to ensure the best possible visibility. [1]


To clear fogged-up windows, turn on the defroster. [1]

Tire tread

Examine the tread on your tires. Worn tread decreases traction and increases the likelihood of skidding. Test your tread by inserting a penny between the tread upside down: If Lincoln’s head is covered, tire tread depth is good. If Lincoln’s head is uncovered, it’s too low, and the tire should be replaced. [1]

Cruise control

Do NOT use cruise control on wet pavement. Cruise control may interpret loss of traction as reducing speed and increase acceleration to compensate, which may cause the vehicle to veer dangerously. [1]

Windshield wipers and water repellent products

It sounds obvious, but turn on the windshield wipers when it rains. You need a clear view. You can also use rain-repellent products on your car windows to help proactively clear water. [1]

More tips for driving in the rain

  1. Keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times.
  2. Eliminate distractions; put away your cell phone, turn down the radio, tune out people talking, etc.
  3. Keep six car lengths between you and the car ahead, and use extra caution when driving near bikes and trucks.
  4. Maintain a safe speed. In general, you should reduce your speed by 10 mph for each level you increase your windshield wiper speed.
  5. Avoid flooded roads. Deep water can stall your engine and even cause your vehicle to float.
  6. Drive in the middle lanes, because water is usually deeper in the outside lanes.
  7. Drive in the tracks of the vehicles ahead of you.
  8. Be careful around large trucks and buses. Don’t follow too closely; spray from their large tires can hit your windshield and temporarily obscure your vision. Pass with caution, but get around these large vehicles quickly and safely.
  9. Watch for brake lights ahead.
  10. If heavy rain is making it difficult to see, drive to a safe place and wait until visibility improves. [1]

Avoid hydroplaning

Hydroplaning occurs when a vehicle loses traction after it hits a patch of water. Water builds up on front of the tires so fast that the car’s weight can’t push it out of the way – causing it to ride on top of the water and slide until traction is restored.

Tips to avoid hydroplaning

  • Maintain a controlled speed, especially on curves.
  • Steer and brake lightly; sudden corrections can cause you to lose traction.
  • Keep tires properly inflated and be sure there’s good tread depth.
  • If you do start to hydroplane, stay calm, ease off the gas and don’t suddenly apply the brakes or jerk the steering wheel. [1]

When is driving in the rain most dangerous?

Driving in the rain at night can be treacherous due to limited visibility. If it is raining hard enough, it may be difficult to see even 10 feet or so in front of your car. Roads are also the slickest when it has just started to rain or drizzle because the moisture mixes with any oil or dust that is on the surface of the pavement. [2]

Is driving in the rain bad for your car?

Car breakdowns increase during wet weather. The moisture can cause problems with engines and electrical systems, especially in older vehicles. However, many rain-related breakdowns are caused by driving through deep-standing water that can deal extensive damage to the engine.

Rain also can increase your chances of getting into an accident. That’s why it’s important to take proper precautions when you’re on the road during a downpour. Taking extra care to remain within the speed limit and to stay a safe distance from other vehicles can help reduce your risk of getting into an accident. [3]

We’re a major proponent of defensive driving, particularly in rainy conditions, which is why we offer defensive driving discounts to reward educated and careful drivers.


[1] (Accessed May 11, 2022)

[2] (Accessed May 11, 2022)

[3],to%20your%20car%20and%20yourself. (Accessed May 11, 2022)

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