The most important thing for drivers to remember is to SLOW DOWN! In rainy conditions pedestrians, livestock, and wildlife are extremely hard to spot and even harder to avoid. It takes longer to stop or adjust speed in wet weather. A good driver will always be conscious of their decisions and if not will consider taking additional training. The following are tips for safe driving in the rain.
• Before it starts to rain, replace old or brittle wiper blades.
• Maintain proper following distance (4 second rule). This is the recommended following distance in wet weather as your stopping distance doubles.
• Drive in the tracks of a vehicle ahead of you.
• Don’t follow large trucks or buses too closely, because the spray created by their large tyres can reduce vision. If you are driving on a motorway, consider the amount of spray produced could reduce your visibility to less than 100 meters and then you will be required to use your rear fog light to increase your visibility to others.
• Be more alert watching for brake lights in front of you.
• Avoid sudden braking; if possible, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down and brake in good time.
• Turn your headlights on in a light rain and in gloomy, foggy, or overcast conditions to help you see the road and help other drivers see you.
• Avoid off-road driving; it’s hard to judge the actual depth of puddles and standing water where you can easily become stuck. You should be particularly aware of this on country roads and soft verges.
• Never drive beyond the limits of visibility. The glare of oncoming lights, amplified by the rain on the windscreen, can cause temporary loss of visibility while substantially increasing driver fatigue.
• Never drive through moving water if you can’t see the ground through it; your vehicle could be swept off the road.
• Avoid driving through deep water, because it can cause serious damage to a modern vehicle’s electrical system. Your engine could also suck up water and cause it to stall, you will not be able to start it again and it will cost a small fortune to repair it.
• If possible, stay off the road during heavy thunderstorms. Large flashes of lightning can temporarily blind and disorient drivers, and the accompanying high winds and heavy rain can create treacherous driving conditions.
• When you need to stop or slow, do not brake hard or lock the wheels and risk a skid. Maintain mild pressure on the brake pedal.
• Watch the contours not only of the road, but also the fences, trees, hedges, and buildings at the side of the road ahead. If they appear to be unnaturally low, slow down at once, because the road is probably flooded.
• Watch out for places where flood water collects, particularly low-lying roads adjacent to streams, and dips under rail or highway bridges.
Aquaplaning happens when the water in front of the tyres builds up faster than the vehicle’s weight can push out of the way. The water pressure causes the vehicle to rise up and slide in a thin layer of water between the tyres and the road. At this point, the vehicle can be completely out of contact with the road, and in danger of skidding or drifting out of control. If you find yourself Aquaplaning or skidding:
• do not brake or turn suddenly.
• ease your foot off the gas until the vehicle slows and you can feel traction on the road again
• Turn your steering wheel in the direction of the skid. As you recover control, gently straighten the wheels, try avoid braking
• if you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping action. Your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally. Because the vehicle’s computer will mimic a pumping action.
There are a few factors that contribute to Aquaplaning :
• The driver, ultimately you are in control of the vehicle and therefore the one making decisions. You choose the way to drive and if you are unconscious of the weather and road conditions, then you will continue to drive in the same usual manor. This is extremely dangerous as you will be driving with undue care and attention, with this in mind if you cause an accident, could result in a prison sentence.
• Weather and road conditions, very similar to the driver, you have the ultimate choice to change your driving according to the weather and road conditions. In good road and weather conditions, you can drive in your normal manor; however during rain you should double your stopping distance and double your following distance to 4 seconds.
• Vehicle speed. As speed increases, wet traction is considerably reduced. Since Aquaplaning can result in a complete loss of traction and vehicle control, you should always reduce speed when driving in wet weather.
• Tyre tread depth. Maintaining adequate treading on tyres and replacing them when necessary can help prevent Aquaplaning, the legal requirement for the United Kingdom is 1.6mm of tread on the central 3/4 of the tyre circumference. Tyre experts can measure tread depth with a specially designed tread depth gauge and recommend checking tyre treads depth every 2-3 months.
• Water depth. The deeper the water, the sooner you will lose traction, although even thin water layers can cause a loss of traction, including at low speeds.
- Ensure your vehicle is road worthy, make sure you have a valid MOT and it is service annually or at the recommended intervals.
- Catch up on your Highway Code it is always good to keep up to date with the latest information as a driver.
- Before starting a journey keep up to date with the the latest traffic information.
- Consider taking additional driving lessons to improve your skills or contact us.
We at U Steer believe in safe driving for life, not just passing a driving test, so all the best to you and happy safe driving.