Let’s face it living in Britain we’re all used to having to drive in wet weather, although generally speaking the rain isn’t really heavy. However from time to time the heavens really open so it’s important that we’re all prepared for how heavy rain may effect driving conditions.
Do you need to travel?
The first thing to really consider in heavy rain is whether your journey is necessary. Even during heavy rain there are usually lulls so consider waiting a little longer until the rain has cleared up before setting off. However if the journey must go ahead regardless follow these simple tips:
- • Tune into a local radio station as they will often have traffic updates, and will make you aware of any road closures or big delays. Local radio stations will also often have weather forecasts on so you can keep up to date with the weather situation.
- • Check your windscreen wipers are working before setting off.
- • Used dipped headlights to enable other road users to see your vehicle more easily.
- • Keep the air conditioning on to prevent the windows from misting up.
- • Don’t use rear fog lights which can mask your brake lights and dazzle drivers behind you.
When driving in heavy rain try and use your wiper blades to best effect. If you see a large or fast moving vehicle approaching, chances are they will create a large amount of spray. Pre-empt the effects of this and set your wiper blades working faster as soon as you see the vehicle. This will help stop the spray from disrupting your visibility.
Consider other road users! Pedestrians and cyclists are exposed to the elements so take care and slow down when passing them to minimise the amount of spray you send in their direction.
Wet weather requires drivers to be more reactive and may require you to ease off the accelerator to prevent loss of traction, therefore using cruise control during wet weather is not advised.
Be aware of the dangers of spilt diesel which when mixed with water will result in a very slippery and hazardous road surface. If you see the tell-tale swirls of fuel in water ease off the accelerator and take extra care.
During wet weather the Highway Code states that:
“In wet weather, stopping distances will be at least double those required for stopping on dry roads (see ‘Typical stopping distances’). This is because your tyres have less grip on the road.”
Reduce your speed to allow for more space between you and the vehicle in front. This not only increases your stopping distance but can also help you see further ahead. Reducing your speed is a great idea as wet roads reduce tyre traction making your control of the cars steering less effective. The faster you travel the less control you will have.
Aquaplaning occurs when a thin layer of water forms between your tyres and the road, meaning there is no longer any contact between your tyres and the tarmac road, therefore no traction. The steering will feel very light and you will feel a lack of control.
To prevent losing control of the vehicle ease off the accelerator until you regain control. NEVER brake as this could make the situation worse.
Driving Through Deep Water
Astonishingly the AA reports that 32% of flood related deaths occur in vehicles so it’s paramount that you take the necessary precautions when crossing deep water.
Avoid driving through areas where you know there is likely to be deep water. If you do have to cross standing water approach with caution as even puddles that appear small can be deceivingly deep during torrential rain.
Remember that travelling too fast through deep water can cause serious damage to your car and result in expensive repairs being necessary.
Don’t forget to test your brakes after you have crossed a body of water. Stay at a steady speed and gently apply pressure to your brake pads to ensure that your brakes are still in working order.
Never attempt to cross fast flowing water as this could result in you and your car being swept away. Find an alternative route even it if means going out of your way – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Did you know?
It takes just 60cm of standing water to float your car and only 30cm of flowing water to move your car.
In the unlucky event of breaking down in heavy rain, ensure you keep your bonnet shut until help arrives. Opening your bonnet exposes your engine and electrical systems to the elements and in torrential downpour it would not take long to cause substantial damage.
Words of wisdom
Whilst we always moan about the weather, we are relatively lucky compared to other countries as our instances of ‘extreme weather conditions’ are few and far between. However there really is no better advice for travelling in any extreme or ‘freak’ weather than only proceed if absolutely necessary. Your safety and the safety of other road users is always paramount so listen out and take heed of any advice.