Altering your driving style and being prepared is the best advice a driver can remember, and this applies to driving in rainy or wet conditions.
There are two main ways that rain or water can affect your ability to drive safely. The first is on your ability to see and assess the environment around you. The second is how water between your tyres and the road alters your ability to grip the road whilst driving.
It is better to avoid driving in extreme weather conditions where visibility is reduced to dangerous levels….pull over safely and sit it out! Judge how effectively your wipers can deal with the amounts of water, and wait until they have more of an effect!
Checking, maintenance, and when necessary, replacement of windscreen wipers is very important. Wipers do perish and will build up grease/mould deposits over time that can render them useless or less efficient. This is why wiper blade manufacturers recommend blade replacement every six months.
Inexpensive windscreen cleaning fluids can help clear the windscreen, and some even cause water to quickly slide off the glass. The cleaner the glass, the more efficient the wipers can be.
If the inside of your car mists up, turn the fan heater or air conditioning on full, use the demisters and heated windscreens/mirrors, or open a window to allow the moist air to circulate. It is useful to keep a dry cloth handy to clean and dry the inside of the glass.
Remember to keep well back from the vehicle in front. This will increase your ability to see and be seen, allowing you to plan ahead, whilst avoiding excessive spray.
In poor visibility use dipped headlights so that others can see you, whilst not being dazzled. They are probably experiencing the same visibility problems as you.
Wet roads reduce tyre grip or traction, acting like a lubricant. You should allow at least double the braking distance when travelling on a wet road, allowing plenty of time to slow down and stop smoothly.
Steering, braking and acceleration will need to be completed smoothly and gently, with extra care taken when cornering, and at intersections where diesel spills can worsen the effects. Your brakes will be less effective because of water too.
After periods of dry weather, water can make the road surface even more slippery. Your ability to grip will depend on the type of road surface itself, whilst the depth of tyre tread is also a factor. Be aware that If your car has antilock brakes or stability control, they will also be less effective in wet conditions.
Aquaplaning can be a frightening experience! This happens when there is a build-up of water between the tyre and the road surface, so that your car slides forward on a thin film of water, losing contact with the road surface itself, and effectively ‘surfing’. It is more likely to happen when driving at speed and you will notice that the steering feels very light, or there is a sudden tug to the wheel.
NEVER attempt to brake or change direction when aquaplaning as you have no control over the steering or braking! Slow your vehicle by easing off the accelerator, and as the tyres slow down, so the water will dissipate until the tyres regain contact with the road surface.
Avoid higher speeds on wet roads and watch out for pools of water on the road surface. Even if the pool is only on one side of the road, this can lead to resistance on that side, and result in the car swerving.
Water will affect your ability to drive safely, but if you follow this advice you are more likely to arrive at your destination safely and without incident.
We’ve put together several blogs covering driving in adverse weather conditions so please check out our blog menu above or click here for top tips on driving in fog, driving in strong winds, and driving in sunshine and hot weather. Always happy to receive comments and suggestions especially with any driving related blog ideas you may want to see covered, and feel free to share.