I saw a sign on the highway’s construction message board the other day that said this: “When you see water on the road, turn around!”
And, immediately I thought, “It’s pouring down, raining! How will anyone ever get anywhere with advice like that?”
I knew what it meant, though. I spent the first half of my life living on the East Coast where rain was often a weekly occurrence. Texas is the only place I’ve ever lived where my windshield wipers had to be replaced because they were dried out!
Fortunately, my dad taught me several good rules for driving in the rain and flood-like conditions. Here are a few of them:
Rule One: Don’t Stop or Brake in Standing Water
This morning I had to drive through a pond-sized puddle in order to get out of a parking lot where I work. So, what did I do? I waited until the coast was clear and I gunned it through (it was the only way out of the lot). Should you always do this? Absolutely not. I was driving a minivan which I knew had a higher clearance and higher opening to the engine. But, if I had been driving a Honda Civic, I don’t think I would have made it. Like the highway sign said, if you aren’t sure, don’t risk it. Water will make your engine stall (and ruin your day in the soggiest of ways.)
Another puddle, just a half-mile away was in front of a stop sign. Even though the law would say I should pull up to the red sign and roll back with the brakes, I didn’t even get close. The only safe place to make that stop was 6 feet behind the stop sign. Stopping at the actual sign, in the middle of the puddle, would have been a recipe for disaster. Once the other side of the road was clear, I was able to pull up around the puddle and safely make my turn.
Rule Two: Avoid Moving Water
It takes a surprisingly little amount of water to sweep you and your car away. If you see water moving, even if it doesn’t look very high, avoid it at all costs. It’s not worth the risk. A car can be swept away by just 1 foot of moving water. That’s not a lot. If you don’t believe that it’s dangerous, read this story about a local man who was whisked away after driving into moving water just last week.
Rule Three: Recognize that Wet Roads are Slippery
Driving in heavy rain shouldn’t be underestimated, especially since that “flash flood” warning won’t go away on my Weather Channel app. Allow yourself more time to brake, give yourself a little bit more space behind the car in front of you, and always be watching for standing or moving water (this can be especially tricky at night!). Stay off your phone and recognize that these driving conditions require your full attention.