South Florida’s Rainy Season Impacts Driving Conditions
Despite what tourism boosters might say about Florida being The Sunshine State, according to the Köppen climate scale, South Florida’s climate is classified as Am, which means a tropical monsoon climate. This climate features warn, dry winters and summers with high heat, humidity, and rainfall.
South Florida’s wet season begins in May and extends through October. During this period residents and visitors will see temperatures are in the mid-80s to low 90s with typical afternoon thunderstorms.
Clearly, it doesn’t take a hurricane to create wet conditions in South Florida, and wet conditions mean a tougher driving environment and unfortunately, more vehicle accidents.
How Does Rain Impact Your Driving?
Any kind of rain may affect your ability to safely maneuver your vehicle on South Florida roads. However, with monsoon-like levels of rain capable of happening in the area, driving safety is even more impacted. It all boils down to two main conditions caused by the rain:
- Lowered visibility
- Lowered traction
Rain and Visibility
It’s not only the rain that makes it hard to see. It’s also the water kicked up from the car in front of you that impairs visibility. Windshields can fog during a rainstorm due to the temperature differential between the outside and inside of the vehicle. And not only other cars, but directional signs up ahead become harder to see as well.
Rain and Traction
When a road is wet, water comes between a vehicle’s tires and the roadway. The space between treads on tires is specifically designed to remove this water, but during a heavy rain that may not be enough to prevent the loss of friction that can occur. That means longer stopping distances are needed. Cars may even slide from side to side in an especially heavy rain.
Not only this, but a hot Florida road hit by colder rain will bead oil from the asphalt on top of the water—meaning the immediate few minutes after a rain begins may be the most dangerous time of all.
Don’t forget that the same conditions affected you are affecting other drivers—and they may not be as careful as you are. So beware of others who continue to drive at full speed when visibility is low and roads are slick. Their accident can become your accident too if you aren’t careful.
Rainy Weather Reminders
- Slow down
- There’s no substitute for simply driving more slowly in the rain. The lowered visibility and increased slickness of the road mean much longer stopping distances for your vehicle and every other vehicle around you.
- Use low beam headlights
- It’s Florida law that your lights are turned on during a rain. But don’t use the high-beams. They will reflect off the rain and lower not only your visibility—but also the visibility for the car in front of you
- Beware sudden braking
- Any sudden application of brakes can cause your vehicle to skid or slide. Instead, try to slow down first by coming off the gas pedal, then gently pumping the brake pedal to slowly stop or slow down.
- Maintain greater distance
- Maintain greater distance than normal to account for the wet conditions. If the car behind you is too close, allow them to pass
- Keep your windows from fogging up
- If your car has a defog function, use it. Otherwise, keep the AC blowing towards your windshield to address the temperature differential
When in doubt—pull over and wait it out.
Better safe than sorry.
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