Top tips for driving safely in heavy rain

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 as safely as possible.

That might mean easing off on your speed, leaving extra space for braking, making sure you can see and be seen with suitable headlights, and in very heavy rain using fog lights. You should also check your windscreen wiper blades, tyres and tyre pressure before heading out on the road. Above all, be extra patient and courteous on the roads!

Now, to look at one particular area, aquaplaning or hydroplaning. This can happen when water is allowed to build 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.

Signs that you might be aquaplaning include:

  • Light steering that feels unresponsive
  • The back end of the car starts to drift sideways, known as 'fishtailing'
  • The engine becomes louder

The best way to avoid aquaplaning is be prepared. Make sure your tyres are at the right pressure, with legal tread depth (at 3mm it is a legal requirement to have your tyres changed), the more tread the more grip you have. Then be aware of your conditions.

If it’s hammering down, the odds are that a lot of water will sit on the road – these are the conditions when aquaplaning is most likely to occur, so slow down and drive carefully.

Similar to snowy conditions, if nobody is driving in the outside lane there will be no tracks to follow so standing water is more likely to occur and you are more likely to go for a spin.

Finally, be smooth when steering, no sudden jerky changes and if you can drive in a lower gear than you normally would — do so! This will allow the engine to do some braking should your brakes have lost the ability to do so.

Here are some tips if you think you might be aquaplaning:

  • Hold the steering wheel straight
  • Gently ease off the accelerator
  • Turn off any cruise control
  • Brake gently
  • Bring the speed of the car down until you regain control   

Stay safe, drive to conditions and remain calm!

All information is provided for guidance only.

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