Driving in the Rain: Advice for Driving in Wet Weather
As we approach the colder months, the likelihood of driving in wet weather or driving in snowy conditions vastly increases. Unfortunately, it can prove to be dangerous if not approached with safety in mind. It can be made even worse if added to the rain or snow, you are also having to drive in strong winds.
Whether abroad or at home in the UK, the roads are not always kind to cars that traverse them when the heavens open, so it is best to drive on them with caution and concern. In extreme conditions, it is best to avoid driving altogether to keep you and your passengers safe. Should the journey be necessary though, there are a few steps you can follow that will keep you safer on the roads.
Before driving in the rain
Before heading out in heavy rain, you should always consider whether the journey is worthwhile. Where it can be made at a later date when the weather is calmer, choose that instead. However, should this not be an option, you should put plenty of planning into the drive so you can avoid areas of risk.
This planning will likely lead to a change in route so factor this into journey times as it may not take significantly longer than originally thought.
With a journey now planned you should prepare your car for the rain-soaked journey ahead.
Prepping your car for driving in the rain
Your windscreen wipers will be in use a lot on a journey plagued by heavy rain so they should be your first port of call. Check them to see that they not only work properly but are in good condition too. If they appear damaged or faulty in any way, replace them immediately. Compromised vision can lead to fatal accidents.
Fill up with petrol in advance, aware that your fuel consumption may be a little higher than normal for a journey of this length. The use of your wipers and lights will reduce your fuel economy somewhat so it is best to cover this by topping up more than usual.
Grip on the roads will always be compromised when the weather turns wet so making sure that your tyres are in prime condition is vital. Check for their overall condition but especially important is the tread depth. You should be looking for a tread depth of 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tyre. If you are caught with tyres that are not compliant, you could be fined as much as £2,500 per tyre!
You should then ensure that you have charged your mobile phone up sufficiently so that should there be an emergency, you can make a call and get assistance.
In addition, add an appropriate road safety kit for the environment that you will be encountering.
How to drive in the rain
With your car ready for the journey and your journey fully planned, it is time to get behind the wheel. There are a few things you should do when driving in the rain to keep yourself, as well as other road users, safe.
- Keep an eye on speed. Stopping distances are increased greatly in wet weather so keeping your speed down is extremely important. The saying goes, “if it’s time for wipers, it’s time to slow down.”
- Look out for surface water and approach with caution.
- Use dipped headlights to help other drivers be aware of your presence.
- Avoid using rear fog lights, they will hinder the illumination of your brake lights and instead dazzle drivers behind you.
- Be aware of other road users. Large vehicles or those moving fast pose risks to themselves and other drivers more than ever in wet weather.
- Keep air conditioning turned on to stop your windows misting up.
- Have both hands on the steering wheel and grip firmly ready to encounter sudden changes.
- Listen out for weather announcements in case there is a sudden change.
- Keep stopping distances in mind. In the rain, they will be at least double. Where normally you would leave a 2-second gap between vehicles, opt for four when the rain comes down hard.
Driving in floods or patches of deep water should be approached a little differently.
Driving in floods and deep water
Should the rainfall become severe enough to cause flooding or large, deep puddles you should approach with caution. Driving in such conditions can cause huge amounts of damage to your car.
Before opting to drive through any body of water, assess it first. Having a better idea of how deep it is and if there could be any obstructions within it could make you change your mind as to whether this route is safe to continue on. If you are unable to tell how deep the water is or it is unclear what the surface is like, it may be best to seek a different route.
Some drivers may feel confident in their ability and the performance of their car to tackle very deep puddles or flooded areas, but you should be aware that cars can float if the depth gets too much and then eventually become flooded. This can lead to fatal accidents, so it is best to avoid it when there is any uncertainty at all.
If you have found that the area of water is shallow enough to drive through. Pay attention to the obstructions that may be on the road surface. Keep the car in low gear with high revs and proceed forward.
Once you come through the deeper water, stop your car for a moment, this allows excess water to drain away and gives you a chance to assess that your car is ok. Moving forward, it is likely that the rest of the road is carrying lots of water dragged out of the puddle by other vehicles so keep an eye on the surface ahead of you.
Aquaplaning when driving in wet weather
When the rain is particularly heavy, you put yourself at the risk of aquaplaning. Aquaplaning occurs when the water builds up in front of your tyres faster than the weight of the car can displace it. This pressure then pushes water under the tyre and creates a thin layer between the tyre and the road.
How to tell if your car is aquaplaning
If the road is wet you will be able to detect that your car is aquaplaning by spotting a few things that your car may be doing. If any of the following occur when on a wet road, your car could be aquaplaning.
- The engine suddenly becomes much louder
- It feels like you have dropped the clutch down gears while driving at speed causing revs to increase.
- The steering feels light.
- The car fishtails, where the back end of the vehicle drifts from side to side.
How to combat aquaplaning
If your vehicle begins aquaplaning, you can do a few things to stop it. Firstly, don’t panic.
- Gently ease off the accelerator.
- Keep a hold of the steering wheel as straight as possible.
- Turn off any cruise control if you have it.
- As control returns to the vehicle, start to brake to bring speed down.
When the weather turns wet, drive carefully at all times. Surprising changes in conditions can lead to accidents at any time. If you are on holiday and have opted for a hire car, consider holiday car rental excess insurance. This way you can avoid the costly excess fees you may otherwise encounter when driving your hire car and encountering a problem. With affordable policies that cover single trips abroad or annual car excess insurance for multiple trips, you can remain confident that your time abroad is as stress-free as possible. Contact us today for a free car hire excess insurance quote.