Food & Drink

The Art of Driving in the Seattle Rain

As the soggy season returns, a few tips on how to safely navigate the city’s roadways

By Beau Iverson November 12, 2018

Abstract blurred background of traffic jam on heavy rain

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the November 2018 issue. Click here to subscribe.

Even on the best of days, driving in Seattle can be miserable. Throw in some precipitation, and conditions get downright scary. We tapped the Seattle magazine brain trust for a few tips to keep in mind for your next rainy road trip. 

1. Be aware of wear and tear. A year’s worth of driving is enough to warrant a precautionary check at the start of the season. Replace worn tires with poor traction and make this the year you finally replace those old windshield wipers.

2. Drive wired, not tired. Be well rested or just properly caffeinated—an easy fix with a stop at a drive-through espresso stand (why do you think it was invented?).

3. Slow it down and hang it up. Once you find yourself on slick Seattle roads, drive slower than normal. It will give you more time to react, and with our traffic, you’re not getting to your destination anytime soon anyway. (It goes without saying that your phone should be in driving mode and out of your hands.)

4. Pump it up. If you feel your vehicle start to hydroplane, don’t panic: Pump your brakes. This gives your car more opportunity to find traction on the road as opposed to a single slam on the brakes.

5. Leave some extra room. You may not be able to stop as fast as usual. Which means—no tailgating. Put a few extra feet between your car and the one you’re following.

6. Don’t weather the storm alone. If you’re not sure about your rainy driving skills, leave it to the professionals and hail an Uber or join the crowd on the bus or light rail. You know what they say: Misery loves company.

7. Don’t worry, because things are heating up. If you’re really down about the rain, fear not: Thanks to global warming, Seattle is going to feel like SoCal before too long. In preparation, keep a spare pair of sunglasses in the glove box. (In the meantime, they’ll come in handy in the event of a surprise sunbreak.)

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