Here’s what you need to know about driving when there’s heavy rain

A man walks across the rain-slicked crosswalk at Peachtree and Decatur streets

Credit: John Spink /

Credit: John Spink /

A man walks across the rain-slicked crosswalk at Peachtree and Decatur streets

Driving in Atlanta is enough of a nightmare when the weather is clear, but something about rainfall seems to bring out the worst in our neighbors behind the wheel. As heavy rain starts to hit the metro area, keep you and your fellow drivers safe by following a few simple tips.

Slow down

Sometimes, the most obvious advice is the most live-saving. According to AAA, one of the best ways to reduce your risk of hydroplaning in heavy rain is to reduce your speed. Oils on the road can make for slick conditions when mixed with precipitation, and even with half an inch of water on the roads, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the wheels moving.

Take your space

Leaving an extra few feet between your car and the vehicles in front of you can be the difference that makes a a safe drive home. According to the Telegraph, it can take twice as long to come to a stop when conditions are wet, so give yourself the room you need to drive defensively.

When it comes to floodwater, just turn around

According to the National Weather Service, it takes only 12 inches of moving water to carry away a small car. It can be hard to tell just how deep standing water is, too, so avoid large puddles and deep standing water on roadways and in parking lots. According to Progressive, deep waters also can stall your engine, leaving motorists stranded and in a bad situation if weather continues to worsen.

January 4, 2023 ATLANTA: Near Turner Field, motorists became stranded after trying to drive through standing water along Pollard Boulevard on Wednesday morning, January 4, 2023. Several routes were canceled or delayed due to flooding. The rain that moved in Tuesday evening brought with it flash flooding, severe thunderstorms and tornado watches across the state on Wednesday. Rolling severe thunderstorm warnings cropped up sporadically throughout metro Atlanta before daybreak as the system moved eastward, causing damaging wind gusts up to 73 mph and toppling trees as it rolled through. Several roads and portions of interstates had standing water as of 8:30 a.m. Just on I-285, at least five areas had flooding that caused all or partial lane closures, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation. All westbound lanes at Ga. 400 were closed, as were the westbound lanes to the I-85 exit. Thursday’s forecast will be mostly sunny with a high of 62 degrees according to Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brian Monahan. (John Spink /


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Keep a clean car and get regular checkups

Squinting your way through heavy rain and wind isn’t the time you want to realize that your windshield needs a heavy scrub, especially if the grime starts to affect your ability to see the road and other vehicles. Geico warns drivers to make sure to clean their cars thoroughly once a month, and be sure to get regular checkups to ensure the car engine, defrost and other functions are working correctly. It’s better to be too cautious than to end up without a crucial function in a crisis.

Turn your lights on

Turning on your headlights doesn’t just help you see where you’re going — it helps other motorists see you. Traffic laws in Georgia mandate that drivers use their lights when making trips 30 minutes after sunset, 30 minutes after sunrise, or in conditions with limited visibility (including rain). According to Travelers, turning your lights on can help you avoid even slight fender benders.