Driving in heavy rain can sometimes present a series of challenges to drivers; poor visibility, flooding and even aquaplaning. Whilst it shouldn’t necessarily deter you from going out for a drive, it’s definitely worth taking a few extra precautions and ensuring you drive safely.
You can do this by finding the answers to common questions related to driving safely in rain, including those like ‘what is aquaplaning?’. Read on for our top tips for driving in rain*.
There are a series of things you should consider before you leave to make sure that your drive ahead will be as safe as possible. These include, but are not limited to:
Make sure that your headlights are bright enough. When driving safely in rain, you need to be able to see other drivers, but other drivers also need to be able to see you. Headlights are a great way to do this.
Your headlights must be white or yellow and allow you to see around 100 metres ahead of you, without blinding other drivers. You can also use LED headlights, but be sure to fit these at the right angle as they can be interpreted as more dazzling to other road users.
It’s crucial that your tyres and tyre pressure are correct. 3mm tread depth is the legal point at which your tyres need changing, so make sure yours are above that.
The necessary tyre pressure will vary depending on your car, so be sure to check your handbook to ensure you’re not over or under-pumping them.
Generally speaking, you should replace your wiper blades every 6-12 months. Your windscreen wipers are paramount to your driving safety, but they’re one of the least durable parts of your car. They become particularly important when driving in heavy rain, so make sure they’re in good condition.
If your wipers are leaving streaks on your windscreen when you use them, that’s a sign that they’ll need replacing soon. If patches of water, chatter marks, or haze are left behind, the spring in your wipers could be gone, and the whole arm will need replacing as soon as possible.
Remember to also leave extra space for braking during heavy rain and consider dropping your speed. Keep your distance from the car in front of you just in case you need to suddenly brake, as your stopping distance will be longer when there’s water on the ground.
Remember, the speed limit is the maximum speed, so you can go slower if it’s safer.
Perhaps most importantly, be extra patient and courteous with other drivers.
Aquaplaning is one of the most dangerous things that can happen when driving in heavy rain. It occurs when water builds up between your tyres and the road beneath. Tyres can no longer grip to the road, meaning the driver is no longer in control of the steering, braking or acceleration.
This can be very scary, especially if you’re a new driver. It tends to happen on faster roads, as a car travels too fast for the conditions. The faster you drive, the harder it is for your tyres to disperse the water.
If it’s hammering down, the odds are that a lot of water will sit on the road. These conditions make aquaplaning more likely to occur, so slow down and drive carefully.
The best way to avoid aquaplaning is be prepared. Make sure your tyres are at the right pressure, with legal tread depth. The more tread you have, the more grip you have, too.
If you think that you’re aquaplaning, you should:
Of course, it’s best to be able to avoid aquaplaning altogether. You can do so by knowing the conditions, and where to be on the road during them.
For example, just like in snowy conditions, if nobody is driving in the outside lane there will be no tracks to follow. Standing water is therefore more likely to build, and you’re more likely to go for a spin. If the outside lane is empty, then you should follow suit and avoid it, too.
In heavy rain, you should try to steer smoothly, with no sudden jerky changes. Also, if you can drive in a lower gear than you normally would, then you should do so! This will allow the engine to do some braking, should you have lost the ability to brake due to aquaplaning.
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*All information is provided for guidance only. If you’re concerned about your car, speak to a mechanic before hitting the road.
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