When it rains, why do people drive like idiots? Drivers run traffic lights, fail to wait for a safe gap to pull into traffic, make erratic or inexplicable lane changes, and drive either far too fast or way too slow. (Take “People” and “drivers” to mean to “you.”)
At the turn of every season, motoring clubs and various “experts” send out press releases telling you how to prepare for the upcoming inclement weather. (I picture people reading these: “The weather is going to change? It might rain, get cold, or SNOW? THAT’S never happened before!”)
The well-meaning folks from the auto club, and car writers trying to satisfy editors who just heard Christmas music in a store, pull out the old stand-bys: Check your battery, assemble a survival kit, and take your vehicle in for a checkup. If the group or writer has a lick of sense, they also hit on the two reasons people drive like nuts in the rain: windshield wipers and tires.
Rubber components are like people: They die even if they haven’t gone very far or done very much. A one-year-old wiper is like an 80-year-old man. If you can’t remember when you last replaced your wipers, you need new ones. Top-quality auto parts stores will replace your wipers for no extra charge. Also, use a water-shedding product, either applied directly to the windshield or in the washer fluid.
That’s ONE reason you drive like an idiot in the rain: Those old wipers and dirty widows mean you can’t see! If you don’t replace the wipers, how ‘bout putting one of those “Blind Skier” vests on each side of your car?
I also use a water-shedding product on the side and rear windows, and outside rearview mirrors: It doesn’t work great, but it helps some.
The other reason you and others drive like knuckleheads in the rain are tires. If your tires don’t have at least 4/32nds inch of tread, they can’t deal with even modest puddles. (Stick a quarter in the most-shallow tread groove: If you can see the top of George Washington’s wig, you need new tires.) With worn tires, the water has no place to go and will literally lift the car from the road and you’ll have less control than if you were on a surfboard. The sensation of hydroplaning (especially from the rear tires) will make some drivers slow to point they are being passed by bicyclists. These drivers will stay in the left lane until 20 feet before their exit. Then they will yank the wheel to the right regardless of what unseen hazard lies to starboard.
Another problem: The folks with bad wipers usually also have worn-out tires. Those with good tires often have good wipers. So the first group wants to go 30 mph: Truly, they might spin out at 35 mph. If it’s light rain, those with good tires and good wipers can safely travel the speed limit...or a little beyond. So there’s one group aspiring to drive 65 or more and another group going 30. Each thinks the others are idiots or morons. Both groups are probably correct.