Weather conditions pose the biggest risk to road users, partly due to the inexperience and lack of preparedness by drivers, and partly due to the changing dynamics of the road and driving environment.
However, in preparation, here are our top tips for dealing with rain.
- Slow down
It might seem like the most obvious thing to say, but all too often it is advice that is ignored. It is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security within our vehicles but speed and adverse weather is a deadly combination. When the road is wet, your vehicle´s tyres cannot grip the road as much as in normal, dry conditions. Cornering and braking are all affected by water on the road, reducing grip and increasing stopping distances considerably, therefore, slowing down allows more time to adapt and deal with the situation. Ease off the accelerator a little and you will see the difference immediately.
- Avoid violent movements or sharp braking
Sudden braking, acceleration or harsh movements of the steering wheel may result in loss of vehicle control. If the operations are carried out progressively, smoothly and slowly, it also gives other drivers more time to react. Remember that a smooth drive is a safer and more efficient ride under normal conditions and even more so when it rains.
- Avoid driving on road markings
Road markings including lane lines, crossings and markers provide less grip that the road surface and can therefore increase braking distances. Riders on two wheels should be particularly aware of this problem.
- Be seen
During rain or reduced visibility make sure that you have your lights on. Daytime Running Lights may not be sufficient, especially during reduced visibility where headlights must be used. The timely use of indicators, including brake lights, is crucial to give other road users advanced warnings of your intentions. Keeping your vehicle under control and following all the advice for a smooth ride will also allow for an improvement in your visibility to other road users.
- Avoid aquaplaning risks
Keep a sharp lookout for puddles and pools of water which may reduce the grip of your tyres on the road even more, potentially creating a liquid barrier between the tyre and road surface, commonly referred to as aquaplaning. However, don´t carry out any sudden movements to avoid these puddles, simply slow down, hold the steering wheel firmly and try to keep your vehicle on a straight and level course. Whilst maintaining an adequate distance from the vehicle in front, it is often beneficial to follow vehicles through such areas as the displacement of water becomes easier.
With these five basic tips your journey through the rain should be a much safer one, but remember that it is not only about how you drive your vehicle, but about the vehicle itself. Proper maintenance is crucial, checking tyres and their pressure, lights, windows, brakes and other such features on a regular basis should also reduce the risk. If in doubt, your local garage can keep a check on these for you.