4 tips for driving in the rain
When the wet season arrives it’s not just the time that we remember we should replace our windscreen wipers, it’s also the time when we need to be more aware of how we drive and know what the best practices are when driving in differing degrees of rainfall.
No matter how adventurous you are, keep in mind that a wet road is more hazardous than a dry one.
Once you add water, it mixes with contaminants and oil on the road to create slippery conditions and you are more likely to lose traction than when the road was dry.
If you have low tread on your tyres then you are more likely to aquaplane or skid. Driving in the rain results in reduced control of your vehicle.
The most dangerous time to drive in wet weather is within the first half hour after it starts to rain.
4 Tips for driving in the rain if and when there is water on the road
1. Driving in dangerous conditions
Firstly, if you feel that driving conditions are dangerous, don’t! Pull over safely and wait until conditions improve.
Better to arrive late than not at all. ‘Dangerous’ can be defined as when you can’t see at a safe reactive distance ahead, you do not feel confident driving in the conditions, or you are losing traction or aquaplaning.
You may feel you are in control of your own vehicle, however, consider the other drivers on the road and evaluate if it is worth continuing to drive.
Do not drive in extreme weather such as heavy rain or flash flooding conditions unless absolutely essential.
2. Driving through water
It is not advisable to drive through water at any time. If you come across an area of the road that’s covered in water and you do not know how deep it is then stop, turn around safely and find a safer route.
Even if you are in a 4WD you should never enter a flooded roadway as it is impossible to see if the road has given way underneath or, if the water is fast flowing, your vehicle can be swept off the road and travel along a floodway, putting you and possible rescuers in danger.
If you accidentally drive through any standing or flowing water, make sure you dry your brakes out before continuing to drive.
This involves applying the brakes lightly to dry them. If you don’t do this and then need to suddenly stop down the road you may not have full function of your brakes when you need them.
What is Aquaplaning? If your car isn’t heavy enough to push water out of the way, you can get a build-up of water in front of your tyre and your car may lift off the road.
This can make the vehicle drift or skid out of your lane. The best thing to do in this situation is NOT panic, understand what’s happening and remember not to brake or suddenly turn.
Instead, reduce your speed and if you have to brake make it a light pumping action.
If you do lose total control there is not much you can do other than apply steady, firm pressure to the brakes and steer into the direction of the skid.
It is best to try to avoid aquaplaning in the first place. Slow down in the rain, make sure your tyres are correctly inflated and hold legal tread depth, avoid driving through standing water, and try to direct your car into the tracks of the car in front.
4. Safe distance & visibility
When driving in the wet, keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead, as it takes longer for you to stop on a wet road.
You need more distance to brake so keep a good distance between traffic.
Stay in the tracks of the car in front of you, as there will usually be less water on that section of the road.
Try to avoid using your brakes; reduce speed instead. Turn your lights on, not only so that you can see, but so other road users can see you.
If you’re not confident driving in heavy rain then avoid it. If you do get stuck in severe wet-weather conditions, remember these important tips:
- Reduce your speed
- Switch your speed
- Switch your lights on
- Leave greater distance between you and other road users
If it gets too extreme pull over, wait it out and don’t forget to check and replace your windscreen wiper refills regularly.
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Rachel spent her early adult life around cars, motorsport and hands-on with her own cars.
This interest moved into various careers within the Automotive industry. Joined with her passion for writing, Rachel loves putting the two together to share her experience, so we can all become AutoGuru’s.