How to Drive in Austin’s Crazy Storms

April 19th, 2015, Posted By Austin Housemates

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Never expect predictability when it comes to weather here in Austin. Last night’s thunderstorm was just a typical spring evening. The hail and rain knocked out trees, power lines, and caused a few interruptions to Reggae Fest. Were you out and about in the storm yesterday? Did you have the unfortunate luck of driving in your car when it hit? We all know the proper safety procedures when it comes to lightening and hailstorms – take cover, avoid tress and metal lampposts, stay dry, but what happens when you’re trying to drive yourself home and the hail is pounding your windshield? You can always pull over and wait for the worst of it to pass, but there isn’t always time for that. Austin is poppin’ and you will have places to be and be seen regardless of the crazy weather. These tips for driving in the rain – even in these crazy Texas storms – will keep you and your passengers safe and guarantee that you’ll arrive to the show, even if you are a few minutes late.

1. Take Your Time
When they’re wet, it’s going to take longer for your tires and your brakes to adjust to the weather. In order to avoid rear end collisions and hydroplaning, slow it down and take your time.

2. Stay in the Middle Lane
When possible, move into the middle lane or at least the lane farthest from the sidewalk. Water will pool and puddle in the outside lanes, closest to curbs and sewer drains. Standing water like this increases the risk of hydroplaning and flooding your car, depending on the depth, so your best bet is to avoid it completely if you can.

3. Maintain Proper Following Distance
This is a Driver’s Ed basic, but in the rain you run the risk of ruining your visibility if you follow too closely, especially behind Texas’ infamous big trucks. They’re going to kick up a lot of water and rain into your windshield, which is only more dangerous for you. Slow it down until your 3-5 seconds behind the car or truck in front of you.

4. Avoid Using Your Brakes
It may seem counter-intuitive, but slamming on your brakes in the rain is only going to lead to spin outs and hydroplaning. Keeping a safe following distance will decrease your need for braking, and if you do have to slow down, simply take your foot off the gas and let your car coast to a safer speed.

5. Basic Vehicular Maintenance
Stay on top of your tires and your windshield wipers. This means regular maintenance checks, oil changes, and tire rotations, either done by yourself or a mechanic. This regular maintenance will keep your vehicle in shape and prepared for whatever crazy weather phenomenon Texas decides to throw our way this spring.

Of course, if you can avoid driving in a storm like last night’s, there’s no reason for you to be out in it. But we can’t always be in the safest, driest, or even most logical place in this city, especially on a Saturday night, so follow these tips to keep yourself safe when driving in the rain.

(Thanks, Yue Zhang, for the great photo!)

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