Heavy rain can pose a serious safety issue for motorists. Fortunately, a few simple measures can help you reach your destination in one piece…
Risk of Rain
Heavy rain can pose all sorts of problems for drivers. First of all, it can severely affect a motorist’s vision; obscuring their view of the road and of their surroundings. Stopping distances are also, at the very least, double that of dry roads. On top of this, there’s also a risk of skidding or aquaplaning. It’s crucial, then, that motorists adapt their driving style accordingly and take the dangers seriously.
Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards at IAM RoadSmart, has stressed the need for safe driving during bad weather. He said, “with the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the rubber (wipers and tyres) in good condition will help you stay safe”.
He added, “in the recent extremes, we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible, avoid driving through standing water. If you’re in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it’s best not to take any chances”.
Prepare Your Vehicle
During those months were weather tends to be more severe, it’s important to prepare your car. You won’t get far in heavy rain without working windscreen wipers. Make sure that these are responsive and that they aren’t too worn; a classic sign of wear is when they smear water, rather than moving it. You should also inspect your car’s lights, at the front and the back, to ensure they’re bright and visible.
In addition to these checks, make sure to regularly inspect your vehicle’s tyres. Due to slippery surfaces, having tyres with plenty of tread depth (and, therefore, grip) is crucial during heavy rain. Look for any damage or signs of wear. You can use the so-called ’20p test’ to make sure your tire’s tread depths are legal. If the outer band disappears when you place it in a groove, the tire’s legal.
Adapt Your Driving
Stopping distances can double during heavy rain. As a result, it’s crucial that you give other vehicles additional space; leave plenty of distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. You’ll also want to do this to avoid the spray that’ll inevitably be thrown at your vehicle by traffic. As a general rule, if you need to use your windscreen wipers, you need to use your headlights. Make sure you don’t forget to put them on when driving in bad weather.
If you find yourself encountering flooded areas, consider taking a different route. If you can’t, make sure to approach it slowly. Lightly press your clutch and accelerate gently. Try not to increase your speed, as this will, potentially, allow water to enter your car’s exhaust. Once you’re clear, test your brake’s to ensure they’re functioning.
Should you find yourself skidding, try not to panic. Take your foot off of the accelerator and firmly grasp your steering wheel. Don’t apply your brakes and steer in the direction your car is skidding.
Finally, be courteous when driving in the rain. Be aware of other drivers and vulnerable road-users, such as pedestrians or cyclists. Try not to splash them. Not only is this rude and even dangerous, but you could be landed with a fine and penalty points for careless driving.
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