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Tips for driving in heavy rain in Houston

Written By: Vicki Powers, UT Physicians | Updated: June 18, 2024
High water sign and a car driving in rain graphic

Take caution when driving during rainfall.

If you’ve lived in Houston for any length of time, you know the roads can quickly flood without notice in certain parts of the city. The rain doesn’t have to be part of a named hurricane or tropical storm. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can produce enough water accumulation to cause street flooding, which makes it very difficult to drive in heavy rains.

Scott Patlovich, DrPH
Scott Patlovich, DrPH

“This is actually by design. City streets are intended to take on water so that buildings and residential homes don’t flood,” said Scott Patlovich, DrPH, assistant vice president of Environmental Health & Safety at UTHealth Houston. “Low-lying intersections across the city are particularly vulnerable to flooding. Whether you’re driving a car, riding a bicycle, or walking, it is never a good idea to enter a flooded roadway.”

Safety tips for driving in the rain

Be prepared for these potential situations and keep these driving tips in mind:

Stay home if you can

Avoid driving in heavy rain conditions altogether, if possible. Check weather reports before leaving home and review the Houston Transtar traffic map to determine areas that might already be experiencing high water.

Leave space behind other cars

Increasing the follow distance behind other cars enables drivers to react quickly, if needed, when stopping distances are increased due to wet roads.

Slow down

Driving slower in wet weather helps drivers reduce the chance of dangerous hydroplaning. Defensive driving is a must for safety.

Stay visible

Driving with your headlights on can dramatically reduce the chances of an accident.

Check tires

If you have to drive in the rain, driving on worn or bald tires will decrease your traction and increase your chances of hydroplaning.

High water alerts

High water conditions can occur without warning. The “Turn Around Don’t Drown” campaign by the National Weather Service is a powerful mantra and reminder during rain storms. Here are a few additional tips:

Pay attention to barricades

Police and emergency personnel place barricades when they see high water. This is a warning to keep you safe. Stay alert, especially at night when it’s harder to see.

Never drive through flooded roadways

Just 12 inches of moving water can sweep a car off the road. It also has the potential to stall your engine. Take an alternate route, and don’t take risks.

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.