It's amazing what a little rain (or a lot) can do to road conditions. In the matter of moments, an easy afternoon drive can turn into a treacherous experience that has you white knuckling the steering wheel. However, this doesn't have to be the case if you understand the steps and caution that should be taken the moment the first drop hits your windshield.
Rule number one to remember that the road will be the most slippery and slick within the first ten minutes of rainfall. This is because the moment the rain hits the pavement, oil and other residue that had dried to the road once again liquefies, causing immediate hazard to you while you drive. This is the time that you are most likely to hydroplane, so be aware and keep distractions such as cell phones, radios, and other in-car issues to a minimum.
Another important tip is to turn on your headlights immediately. Less than savory weather conditions can make it difficult for other drivers to see you, even during the middle of the day. Many states require headlights when it is raining, regardless of the hour. However, if your state doesn't, a great rule of thumb to follow is to turn them on as soon as the first thunderclouds start gathering in the sky.
When you are driving in the rain it is also important to drive below the speed limit, regardless of what "souped up" 4 wheel drive features your SUV has. Drive slow and keep five car lengths in between you and the vehicle in front of you. This allows you appropriate time to make decisions while driving as well as a line of sight that will help you anticipate problems before they happen.
Next, consider your tires. Remember that the maximum speed that you are capable of driving is related to the current condition or type of tires you have on your car. While you may have radial tires on your car which boast better traction than other types, even this type of tire loses effectiveness as the tread wears out and it will not be able to channel the water on the road.
It is necessary for you to be aware also that your brakes are not immune to water and they can be compromised. Avoid driving through deep water as this will affect your brakes ability to do their job.
Finally, depending on what area of the country you live in, this may or may not be applicable to you. Some areas of the country experience road wash outs from river overflow during heavy rain. While you may know that the water isn't deep, you should never try driving through moving water. Even an inch of water that has a current has the ability to carry a car. Remember, this moving water is GOING SOMEWHERE, likely to another water source where there is a lot more of it, like a river. While it may only be a inch on the road, if you try to maneuver through it and you get washed away, you will have much bigger problems.
Stay safe. Remember, it might seem just like a little rain and you might say you are not made of sugar, but it has the ability to be very dangerous, especially if you are behind the wheel of a car.