Your eyes can thank the abundant rainfall for all of the lush greenery popping up everywhere this season. And as your personal experience has probably taught you, the wetter roads also make driving potentially hazardous.
Russell Shepherd, a mechanical engineer for Michelin North America and self-proclaimed “tire nerd,” had earned his informal title with his 15 years of driving in almost every type of weather conceivable. His most concerning? Driving in the rain.
“Most people don’t realize how much wet roads affect their driving,” says Shepherd. “When roads become wet, it takes longer to stop and more time to react, making it more important than normal to pay attention to your car and other drivers.”
For the average driver, Shepherd suggests getting to the bottom of things first—starting with the tires. Here are some tips to help:
- Check the tires regularly for tread wear and pressure. Different seasons and temperatures will affect tires, so it’s a good idea to check both.
- Slow down. Traction is negatively affected as soon as it starts raining, so taking your time is paramount. It only takes a small amount of water to mix with oil and dust to create slick roads.
- Pick the right tire. A tire with a grip designed to handle wet roads can be the difference between arriving safely at your destination or getting in an accident. This tire has a unique rubber compound engineered to maximize traction, and two sets of grooves to help wick water away from the tires to maintain traction. The second set of grooves is hidden when the tire is new, but emerges as the tire wears. This distinctive design feature maintains the tire’s ability to funnel water away, even when worn, which prolongs the life of the tire and raises driver safety.
- Know your car. Take time to learn how your car responds on wet roads. If the steering seems looser, if you’re sliding when you brake, or if the ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) is kicking in, your tires could be losing their grip. In this case, slow down and get your tires checked as soon as possible.