We would all like to have it sunny every single day, but unless you live in a desert-like climate, you'll eventually encounter rain while towing your RV. Taking the right precautions when driving or towing your RV in rainy weather conditions is a necessity. Since most travelers will eventually run into rainy conditions, here are some safety tips for driving or towing your RV in the rain that will help you arrive safely at your destination.
Do a Safety Check
A good place to start is by doing a thorough safety check around your vehicle and/or RV. Let's start with the tires. Make sure they are all fully inflated to the correct PSI (check owner's manuals) and there aren't any bald or really worn-out areas on them. Having the tires correctly inflated is safer, your ride will be smoother, and you'll get better gas mileage. All good things! Next, check all the lights and turn signals to make sure they're in working order. If not, a new lightbulb or two is a quick, inexpensive fix. On the exterior of your RV, make sure your slide outs, awnings, and steps have all been retracted and secured into place before even thinking about driving out of the driveway. Unlike lightbulbs, a torn-off awning or damaged slide out is not an inexpensive fix! Lastly, make sure you've closed and locked your exterior storage compartment doors so they don't pop open if you hit a big bump and so that your items are safely locked away when you stop at rest areas or restaurants.
Drive With Your Lights On
When it’s cloudy and rainy, it's important for many reasons to drive with your lights on. Dark, rainy weather often produces reduced visibility on the road, making it hard to see very far in front of you. Not only is rain hitting your windshield from above, but water sprays up from the cars around you too. Your headlights help cut through all the moisture and make it easier to see. In addition to lighting the way for you, having your headlights and taillights on make you more visible to surrounding traffic. The more you stand out in rainy weather, the safer you'll be.
Wiper blades are only good if they work! That's a pretty obvious statement, but it can be easy to overlook these handy little accessories and forget to maintain them. A good rule of thumb is to replace them twice a year or every 6,000 miles. Or if you notice that they're not clearing the windshield well enough anymore, it's time to run to the auto parts store for a new pair. Another quick, inexpensive fix!
Some areas of the country, like the Pacific Northwest, receive more rain than other areas, like the desert Southwest. If you live or plan to travel in an area that receives a lot of rain, consider purchasing a set of rain tires to help keep you safer. These tires have wide center grooves and a unique tread pattern that repels and removes water better than standard tires. Since there are different types of rain tires, do your research before making your tire purchase to ensure that you're getting the right protection for you.
Rain-Repellent Windshield Spray
Did you know that you can buy a water-repellent spray for your windshield to make visibility better for you? What an ingenious invention! Products like Rain-X, Amsoil Rain Clear Windshield Protectant, or Aquapel Glass Treatment are a cinch to apply. Once sprayed or wiped on, your windshield all of a sudden has a clear, protective film over it that makes rain droplets bead up and slide right off the windshield! How cool is that! Just reapply every so often when you notice it's not working well anymore.
Since you've already checked your tires for proper inflation and tread condition (see above!), you've already reduced your chances of hydroplaning. Just be sure to slow down and avoid puddles if possible. If you feel yourself start to hydroplane, do not brake hard or turn suddenly. Ease your foot off the gas until the car slows down and you can feel the road beneath you again. If you have to apply the brakes, pump them gently. The goal is to keep your vehicle and/or RV under control until you have contact with the road again.
Middle of the Road/b>
If you are driving down a 3-lane highway or road, chances are the middle lane will be the dryest. Most roads have a surface that crowns in the middle to force water to run down the sides and off the road. The center lane is often higher and dryer, so try to drive in the middle lane when it's raining. This will help keep you and the traffic around you safer when towing an RV.
Slow It Down!
Rainy conditions are not ideal driving conditions, so slow it down! Your destination isn't going anywhere! Not only is visibility compromised, but roads are slick and slippery due to oil, grease, and grime that accumulates on the roads over time until a heavy rain washes them away. Driving at a slower speed allows your tires to make more contact with the road and give you better traction. It'll also be easier for you to avoid skidding or sliding from slamming on your brakes because you're approaching another vehicle too quickly. However if you do start to slide or skid, don't slam on your brakes! That will only make things worse! Instead, take your foot off the gas, apply firm, steady pressure to the brakes, and turn in the direction of the skid/slide.
Sometimes it happens that rain falls so hard and so fast that it's almost impossible to even see the front of your hood! If this is the case, the smartest thing to do is to pull over at the nearest exit or along the side of the road until the heavy rain lets up. If you do pull off on the side of the road, make sure you are far enough away from on-coming vehicles (since they probably can't see well either!) and turn your hazard lights on so you're visible. Before you know, the rain will let up and the skies will clear, allowing you to get back on the road and back on schedule.