Tips for Driving In the Rain
After a long, hot summer, the forecast may well come as a shock to the system to most of us. Across the country, sandals have been stowed away for another year and waterproofs are dusted off. The same goes for cars; the air con is suddenly being used to de-mist rather than drop the temperature, and windscreen wipers are clearing drizzle and rain, not dust. Here are our top tips for driving safely in the rain.
This may seem obvious but new drivers or drivers who have got used to easier driving conditions may not understand just how important it is. You may be in a rush; you might not have accounted for traffic, rain, or storms when planning your travelling time, but it is better to arrive late and safe than risk accident. When it is wet, everything is harder: visibility is reduced, stopping distance increases, and it can be harder to manoeuvre your car. Speed limits are based on ideal driving conditions, but wet roads can double your stopping distance. If the conditions aren't great, don’t feel under pressure to drive at the speed limit; slow down and take it carefully.
Modify Your Distances
Everything takes a little longer in wet conditions; in addition to the challenges faced by wet conditions, you have to concentrate harder, which could impact on your reaction time. If it’s raining, increase your distance between vehicles; most drivers know the “two-second-rule” but in the rain, err on the side of caution and opt for the three or even four-second-rule: i.e. leave a four second stop gap between you and the vehicle in front. Be aware of rain-filled pot holes which could be mistaken for small puddles and stay well back from (or overtake if safe to do so) heavy vehicles such as lorries and buses to avoid getting your vision impaired by their spray.
All Dried Up
Your brakes work twice as well when they are dry. If you drive through a large puddle or particularly wet patch, gently test your brakes to dry them off.
If you do hit water and start to lose control, stay calm. Don’t accelerate or steer sharply; carefully and slowly reduce your speed to help transfer the weight of the vehicle to the front wheels. Gently steering to a drier area – don’t forget to test your brakes when continue with your journey.
Many modern vehicles come with driver assist functions to offer a smoother journey. However, they aren’t always necessarily programmed to deal with more challenging conditions. If the roads are wet or visibility is impaired in any way, it is a good idea to switch off the cruise control or adaptive cruise so that you can keep complete control. If you do aquaplane while in cruise control, your car won’t be able to react and adapt in the same way as you can.
If you feel that you or a loved one could do with brushing up on driving knowledge and skills, get in touch with one of our local, rated driving instructors.