Whether this is your first season of driving in Seattle rain or your 77th, remember that collisions are most common on Western Washington roads during the first rain after a long dry spell, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The region’s wet season is starting, with up to 2 inches of rain expected in the Seattle area between Friday and Monday morning. The first fall rain brings to the road’s surface a whole summer’s worth of leaked oils and fluids, making the road slick and traction elusive.

That can make it appear “that people forget how to drive in the rain,” Trooper Rick Johnson has said about the perennial question: Why does it seems like Seattleites are terrible at driving in the rain?

It’s not uncommon, he said, to have traffic collisions and catastrophes throughout the region when the rainy season first returns.

But some longtime observers of Seattle drivers say the rain isn’t the only problem.


Slippery roads, big puddles and splashing rain just take away the slim margin of error that keeps every day from being a continuous crash course, Joe Giammona, chief executive officer of The Driver Training Group and chairman of Global Driving Solutions, has said.

“We’re bad drivers in general, and in the rain, things get a lot worse quicker,” he said.

Bearing all that in mind, here are some tips from the Washington State Department of Transportation:

  • Slow down (even if you have four-wheel drive).
  • Increase your following distance.
  • Use your headlights.
  • Check your tire tread, your windshield wipers and your defroster. Make sure your windshield-wiper fluid is filled before the rainy season begins in earnest.
  • Leave early and give yourself plenty of travel time so you’re not rushing.
  • Pull over and take a break if you’re frustrated or angry, as that’s when people are often tempted to make a bad decision.