79°F
weather icon Clear

Here’s a guide for driving in the rain in Las Vegas

It’s 4:55 p.m. Friday. You’ll soon scurry out of your downtown work cubicle, sprint to your vehicle and drive to your comfy abode elsewhere in the valley in anticipation of a fun evening with family or friends.

However, a rare thunderstorm has just hit the Las Vegas Valley. The raindrops are starting to stream down your windshield.

As you enter our congested roadways at the worst possible time — several hundred thousand others are ready to put the pedal to the metal.

You’ve heard it before — slow (the heck) down!

It’s a well-known fact that law enforcement has its busiest times as valley motorists try to navigate in the rain. The Las Vegas crash rate can double or triple during wet weather. Much of that is because motorists were simply driving too fast for conditions.

Nationally, 1.2 million crashes a year are related to wet conditions, said Sergio Avila, Nevada spokesman for AAA.

Speeding (or even adhering to the posted limit), older tires, beating wipers, worn brakes, oil on the road and distractions as you ponder the evening ahead can all be critical factors leading to disaster.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Smaka offers his top 5 tips for navigating the rain and roads safely:

1. No excessive speed

Gradually slow down so you don’t lose tire traction. Never slam on the brakes unless absolutely needed. Be sure to slow down in advance for freeway exits. “We get a lot of people flying off ramps,” Smaka says.

2. Safe following distance

“Time is your friend,” Smaka says. “Double the 3 seconds at 60 mph in good weather rule. Try to double your following distance if you can. It’s always the one driver not adhering to the safe following distance rule that comes sliding into you.”

3. Never enter standing water

Not only can it destroy your engine, but it can leave you stranded and facing costly repairs. And even as slow has 30 mph, your vehicle can completely hydroplane and lose all traction with the road.

4. Wear your seat belt

“There’s nothing more anybody can ever do to avoid major damage or death,” Smaka said. “It takes 7,800 pounds of force to keep you in your seat in a high-speed collision.” It is cliche, but your seat belt and the one second it takes to fasten it is essential.

5. If an accident occurs in traffic, move to the shoulder

If you can drive your vehicle, move it out of the travel lane to the shoulder. “We do get a lot of residual crashes,” Smaka said.

Other advice

Headlights: According to AAA, in Nevada, headlights are only required to be on 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, and when visibility is less than 1000 feet. However, it is, of course, helpful to turn your headlights on in inclement weather.

First 10 minutes: When it rains heavy or even light rainfall after a prolonged period of dry conditions, oil on the road mixes with rain, making conditions extremely slippery.

“The first 10 minutes of a storm is when it is the slickest,” Avila said. “That is the time to be extra cautious.”

If caught in a skid: “If you find yourself skidding, steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go and avoid hitting the brakes because that will only make it worse,” Avila advised.

Alternate route: Roads can be closed, especially for a bad crash or water pooling or even running over the surface.

“It’s always good to know more than one way home,” Smaka said. “Many people tell us ‘this is the only way I know to get home.’ “

Allow extra time: “Expect delays, slow down and don’t get frustrated because it is going to take longer to get from point A to point B,” said Andrew Bennett, spokesman for the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety.

Pocketbook factor: How does $200 deducted from your bank account sound?

“Many violations for motorists involved in rain-related crashes come down to not being careful,” Smaka said. “Failure to use due care, too fast for conditions.”

The fine for such violations varies by Nevada jurisdiction, but $200 is a ballpark cost, Smaka said.

Contact Marvin Clemons at mclemons@reviewjournal.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
For more on current conditions in Las Vegas and forecasts, see the updated graphic below or go to our weather map.
Local Videos
Seven Magic Tires
“Seven Magic Tires,” created by Las Vegas artists Justin Favela and Ramiro Gomez, substitutes piles of tires for hefty boulders to recreate the scale model. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Warehouse fire in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas Fire Department PIO Nino Galloway gives an update on the fire at a warehouse on Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Woman's memoir reflects on her fresh start in Las Vegas
Etta Baykara, 91, who plays accordion in a polka band, wrote a memoir that includes growing up on a farm to her move to California and then Las Vegas where she claims she is the happiest. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas pinball wizard Spittin' Jerry Kaczmarek
Jerry Kaczmarek, also known as “Spittin’" Jerry, talks about his days as a pinball hustler in Vegas in the 60’s and 70’s. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Behind the scenes at Broadacres Marketplace
Evelyn Sanchez, Broadacres Marketplace marketing and event director, talks about the offerings at the dynamic swap meet in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Teen talks about alleged sexual assault at Las Vegas grocery store
A 17-year old says she was groped and then sexually assaulted by a loss-prevention specialist at an Albertsons store in east Las Vegas. The subject's voice has been distorted to protect her identity. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson officials tried to lure Arizona Diamondbacks from Phoenix
Henderson officials tried to lure Arizona Diamondbacks from Phoenix with four potential stadium sites in mind, including one behind the future home of the future Raiders headquarters. Discussions between the team and the city stalled out, but Henderson still wants to attract professional sports to the area.(Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Grasshoppers swarm Las Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is swarmed by pallid-winged grashoppers on July 25, 2019. The grasshoppers have infested the Las Vegas valley after an unseasonably wet winter and spring, experts say.(@365inVegas/Twitter)
Aviators splash pad lets fans stay cool
Las Vegas Ballpark’s splash pad area is the perfect place to keep cool while enjoying the game. (Cassie Soto/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Grasshoppers invade Las Vegas
The grasshoppers came out at night in northwest Las Vegas on Thursday. Lights at a local gas station attracted hundreds of the insects. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CCSD superintendent says dean positions will not be eliminated
Clark County School District Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara discusses budget adjustments for the district after listening sessions with principals, teachers and support professionals. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson rain
Rain falls in Henderson on Wednesday, July 24, 2019.
Monsoon season begins in the Las Vegas Valley
Rain dropped in Henderson on Wednesday morning as monsoon season begins in the Las Vegas area. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson Fire Department on checking back seats in the heat - Video
The Henderson Fire Department talks about double-checking car seats in the Las Vegas heat to remember children who may be in the car. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Take the Red E Bike tour of Red Rock Canyon
The Red E Bike tour of Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas starts at the visitors center for a three-hour, 17-mile ride. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Steve Meriwether talks about his son, who was killed by a drunk driver
Retired Metro sergeant Steve Meriwether talks about his son, Garrett Meriwether, who was killed by a drunk driver. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Earthquake might have caused Pahrump man's death
Officials in Pahrump believe that the recent Fourth of July earthquake caused the death of resident Troy Ray as he was working on his car. If true, it will be the first earthquake-related death in the state in recorded history, according to research geologist Craig dePolo. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Earthquake-related death reported in Pahrump
The Nye County Sheriff's Office investigated a man's death reported on July 9 that may have been related to a Southern California earthquake that occurred on July 4 and was felt in Southern Nevada. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Fire in Arts District in downtown Las Vegas
Fire in Arts District in downtown Las Vegas on July 6, 2019. (Angus Kelly)
10th Anniversary of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is celebrating its 10th anniversary in the coming week. Director Marwan Sabbagh talks about what the center offers, what they've achieved and what is next in the work of degenerative brain disease. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Highway Patrol pulls over hearse in HOV lane
A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper pulled over the driver of a hearse, which was carrying a body, in an HOV lane in Las Vegas, July 1, 2019. (Nevada Highway Patrol)
Bellagio Conservatory unveils Italian summer exhibit
The Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Gardens have opened the gates to its summer display. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Summer In Las Vegas
Summer In Las Vegas (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Train derails in Northern Nevada - VIDEO
A train carrying ammunition derailed near Wells in Northern Nevada on Wed., June 19, 2019, closing part of Interstate 80, authorities said. (Michael Lyday/Twitter)
Fire damages an office complex in central Las Vegas - VIDEO
A fire causes heavy damage to an office complex at 3900 Paradise Rd. in Las Vegas on June 17, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Crash closes Las Vegas Blvd. near Fremont Street
A vehicle fleeing police crashed in the area of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard in downtown Las Vegas on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Courtesy Andy Herrera)
Clark County's third poet laureate
Heather Lang-Cassera, who will be Clark County's third poet laureate on June 1, is interviewed at the Writer's Block bookstore in Las Vegas, Friday, May 24, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
One dead, two critical in Henderson shooting
One person is dead and two juveniles are in critical condition after a Friday morning shooting in Henderson, police said. During a briefing at the scene on Friday, Lt. Kirk Moore said the preliminary investigation has revealed that this incident is likely narcotics-related.
A man whose wives were found dead 8 years apart under similar circumstances is denied bail - VIDEO
Alan Sylwester, the man suspected of killing his wife, was denied bail again Wednesday morning during his preliminary hearing in Henderson.
Chief deputy district attorney: “Justice was done” in child pornography case - VIDEO
Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney James Sweetin speaks with the media after the sentencing of Christopher Sena, the man who was found guilty in February of multiple counts of sexual assault with a minor, incest, use of a minor in the production of pornography, lewdness with a child younger than 14 and child abuse. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Asian business owners share successes at GOP-sponsored town hall

Members of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce shared stories of business expansion, bonuses for their workers and stable revenue at a Tuesday afternoon round table discussion co-hosted by the Nevada Republican Party and President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.