Essential Tips For Driving In The Rain
Wet weather driving, whether it’s a light rain or heavy downpour, is one of the most challenging situations a driver can encounter. Accidents are bound to happen on wet roads but there are several driving tips that can help keep you and your family safe.
Regardless of the country you live in, it is almost certain that you will need to drive in the rain at some point. Knowing how to safely drive your car on wet roads with impaired visibility and poor handling could be lifesaving.
How To Drive On Wet Roads
Rain brings about its own challenges but many can be minimised if you know how to drive in the rain. If you fit tyres that are better suited for wet roads, you should be able to safely navigate the wet conditions. Tyres in the wet can behave differently than expected and it’s advisable to follow these simple driving tips:
- Reduce speed on wet roads to give yourself sufficient time to slow down or stop if required
- Avoid driving over wet leaves as it can be as hazardous as standing water
- Beware of floodwater on bends and rather don’t drive through it if you don’t know when you’ll come out of the water
- Always make sure you drive on the highest section of the road. Use the edge of the kerb as an indicator of how deep the water really is
- When driving through water, maintain a slow and steady speed
- Remember to test your brakes the moment you get out of the water
Winter Driving Tips For Heavy Rain
To ensure the safety of you, your family and other road users when driving in heavy rain, it’s imperative to remember the following:
- Watch your speed
- Leave plenty of room between your car and the one in front (at least four seconds)
- Winter tyres might have more grip but driving on wet roads still increases stopping distance
- Allow someone who is driving close behind you to overtake
- Put on your headlights but keep them on a dipped beam
- Do not use your fog lights as they often mask your brake lights and dazzle drivers behind you
- Be cautious of large or fast-moving vehicles creating a spray that can reduce visibility
- Also, be considerate about your own spray and don’t drive fast through puddles close to pedestrians or cyclists
- Besides, driving fast through deep water can cause serious and expensive damage
How To Safely Handle Aquaplaning
Driving through puddles of water can cause aquaplaning which occurs when your tyres lose traction with the road. The moment your steering suddenly feels lighter, take your foot off the accelerator and allow your car to reduce speed until you are in control again. Under no circumstance should you slam on brakes until you’ve regained control!
Breakdowns In Wet Weather
The number of breakdowns increases significantly in the rain as damp can cause problems in a number of areas. If you do break down in the middle of a torrential downpour, pull over to a safe, visible location and wait for help to arrive. Keep your bonnet closed to prevent further damage and don’t try to restart your car if it cut out after going through deep water.
Unless your battery is completely dead, tune into the radio station and listen for traffic updates. It will warn you about roads or bridges being closed due to bad weather. Also, it may not always be possible but listen to the police when they say you shouldn’t travel.
Driving Tips And Pre-journey Preparation
Before setting off in the rain, always consider whether your journey is essential. If you can delay or postpone the trip until the weather clears up, the safer you will be. If you can’t, plan your journey in advance by avoiding areas prone to flooding while factoring in extra time due to slower travel speed and possible road congestion.
When driving in wet weather, it is also advisable to let relatives or friends know your intended route and expected time of arrival. An added safety tip is to travel with others if possible. Here’s a handy checklist on how to check your car before setting off in winter.
Winter Safety Checklist
- Check that your windscreen wipers are fully functional
- On older vehicles, upgrade to ‘aero’ wipers as they are more effective
- Try filling up your car before travelling as traffic will increase fuel consumption. In winter, you will likely use the lights, heater and wipers which will impact fuel economy even more
- Listen to local news bulletins for updated weather reports, road closures and flooding
- Make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone in the event you encounter any problems on your journey
- Ensure that your tyres have at least the legal tyre tread depth of 1.6 mm to give you the grip that tyres in the wet need
Stopping Distances In The Wet
According to the Highway Code, stopping distances will be at least double when driving in wet weather. This is as a result of your tyres having less grip on the road surface. Two of the most important driving tips on wet roads include reducing speed and leaving more space between you and the vehicle in front. This will provide a bigger gap to account for longer stopping distances. The two-second rule for braking distance in normal conditions essentially becomes the four-second rule.
Driving Tips For Flooding
The recent weather in the UK has been more than just rain showers as it brought flooding across some parts of the country. While some water puddles may appear small, take extra care as you won’t always know what lies beneath. Driving through deep puddles of water incorrectly can result in serious damage to your car and expensive repairs, not to mention the safety aspect.
How To Navigate Flooded Roads
To ensure your safety, here are a few vital driving tips for safely navigating flooded roads:
- Inspect the puddle to gauge the depth and identify any potential objects that can damage your tyres
- Use a stick or something similar and if it’s too deep, find an alternate route
- Modern cars have better seals which are good but it also means they float in deeper water leaving you stranded
- If you can drive through it, do so slowly and carefully in low gear while keeping the engine revs up
- Upon exiting the water, stop if you can to let any excess water flow away
- Remember, grip levels on the road ahead will be diminished as other vehicles passing through before you may have moved the water around
These driving tips are intended to help keep you safe in wet weather and are quite simple to follow, provided you make a conscious effort to abide by them. Turning on your lights, reducing speed and maintaining a safe following distance are three of the simplest but most effective driving tips.
Elite Garages have 13 retail locations across the southeast of England with expert technicians ready to help where they can. They provide professional and friendly advice on all things tyres, MOTs, services, brakes, clutch and exhaust systems among many others.
Get in touch if you need any assistance or advice in making your car winter-ready. If you suspect damage to your tyres or that the tread may be below the legal limit, visit any of our service centres for a FREE wheel alignment and tyre safety check.