The UK gets, on average, 133 days of precipitation per year, so it’s likely you’ll have to drive in the rain sometimes. Driving in severe wet weather can be hazardous, so it’s important to take extra care. Below are some tips to help you drive safely in the rain.
The safest thing to do in a heavy storm is to avoid driving altogether. Unless your journey is essential, you should try to postpone it for when the weather subsides or use alternative transport.
However, if you need to drive, you should plan a route that avoids areas that are likely to flood. You should also allow some extra time for your journey, as you’ll likely be driving at slower speeds and might be more likely to get caught in traffic.
You should let someone know your route and what time you’re expected to arrive at your destination. You should also carry a mobile phone with you on your journey.
It’s vital that your windscreen wipers are working properly, so you have full visibility when driving. If your wipers are smearing, or just not clearing the windscreen as they should, you’ll need to get them replaced. You should check both your front and back wipers.
You should also check your tyres to make sure they’re safe to drive in wet weather. They’ll need to be properly inflated. You should also check the tread depth, as if they’re too worn, you’ll be more likely to skid on the wet road.
Your windscreen will be more likely to fog-up if the weather is wet outside. You should make sure your windscreen is fully cleared before you start driving. Use your heaters and air conditioning to keep it demisted through your journey. Keeping your windscreen clean will also help to stop it from fogging so much.
Even if it’s just been raining lightly, you should reduce your speed when driving. Your car will be much harder to control if the road is wet, as you’ll have less grip and be more likely to skid. Driving slower will also give you more time to react to what is happening around you as you drive.
Stopping distances can double in wet weather. So, whilst in normal driving conditions you should leave a two-second gap between your car and the car in front, if it’s raining you should double that to four seconds. This should give you plenty of space and time to brake safely if needed.
If you’re driving on the motorway, you should be careful if you’re passing or driving behind large vehicles. They will create more spray, which can impede your visibility. You should try not to follow large vehicles if you can avoid it and if you overtake you should do so with care.
You should avoid driving through puddles or surface water if you can. It will be difficult to judge the depth and if it’s too deep it could cause damage to your car. However, if it’s unavoidable, you should drive through puddles with great care. You should slow right down and keep in a lower gear, so you have as much control as possible. When slowing down, you should avoid using the brake if possible, and just ease off the accelerator. If the road is uneven, you should look for the highest point to drive through.
If you’ve driven through particularly deep water, you should aim to stop your vehicle on the other side to let the water drain away, if the situation allows. If you can’t stop, take extra care as the road will likely be more slippery if other cars have had to drain water as they drive out of the puddle. You should gently tap the brake when you’re out of the water, as this will create friction which will create heat and can evaporate some of the extra water.
Aquaplaning is when water gets between your tyres and the road surface and stops them from gripping. When this happens, you might lose control of your vehicle as it slides over the water.
If you notice your steering becomes light as you drive over water, gently ease off the accelerator and hold your steering wheel straight. You should let your speed gently decrease until you are able to control your vehicle again. It’s important not to use the brake or to make any sudden steering movements, as this can cause your car to skid.
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