Important tips for safe wet-weather driving

Wet-weather driving requires plenty of thought and care.

Driving in wet weather can be challenging, especially when you’re taking a road trip. However, the elements don’t have to dampen your enthusiasm for hitting the road.

To ensure the weather has as minimal impact on your holiday plans as possible, it’s vital that you are prepared for the conditions. To help, we’ve put together a few important tips to keep you safe when driving in wet weather.

Mirror, mirror: Take a good hard look at your car before setting off in rainy conditions.

Prepare your vehicle for wet-weather driving

Before you hit the road, it’s essential that your vehicle is equipped to deal with wet weather. Make a checklist and address the following:

  • Have you checked that your vehicle’s brakes are wet-weather ready?
  • Do the tyres have tread that is satisfactory for the conditions? Remember, you need more tread when driving in wet weather.
  • Do the tyres have adequate air pressure? Proper tyre pressure and tread help to avoid aquaplaning (a scenario where a layer of water forms between the vehicle’s wheels and the road surface, resulting in traction loss).
  • Are your windscreen wipers in good nick? When it rains, sub-standard windscreen wipers are about as useful as air conditioning in Antarctica.
  • Is your windscreen clean inside and out? If vision is already poor, it’s integral that you do everything you can to maximise your ability to be able to see.
Worn windscreen wipers aren't much help when driving in the rain.

What to do when driving in the rain

Once you’re on the road, there are a few important tips for driving in the rain that will help to keep you and your passengers safe, along with fellow road users.

Make your vehicle visible: First things first – turn your headlights to low beam (never high beam). This will increase your visibility and make you more visible to other drivers. Also, use your air-conditioner or demister, as it will stop your windows fogging up.

Error: When raining, headlights should be on at low beam.

Slow down: Although you’re excited about the impending break, it’s critical you don’t give the accelerator as much love as you would if conditions were dry. Roads are slippery, reaction times are slower, and visibility is reduced – these factors mean it’s imperative that you take it easy.

Give other vehicles plenty of space: If you need to brake quickly when driving in the wet, remember it will take you longer to do so than if you were negotiating a dry road. To avoid a nasty accident, increase the space between your vehicle and that in front of you. A six-second gap is a good guide.

Give vehicles in front of you extra space when you're driving in the rain.

Follow the line: While it’s important to keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front, it also helps to drive ‘in’ the tracks of the car you are tailing. This can help to reduce the level of water between the road and your vehicle’s tyres.

Be calm if skidding: If you find yourself skidding, this advice would need to have been planted in your head well before the event: do not slam on the brakes, and be sure to ease your foot off the accelerator. If your vehicle doesn't have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), avoid using your brakes altogether. If your vehicle is equipped with ABS, apply firm, solid pressure to the brakes and steer the car into the skid. This will help bring your vehicle’s back end in line with its front.

Avoid cruise control: It's best to avoid using cruise control in wet weather for a host of reasons. Among them is a need for sustained speed adjustments in wet weather, which cruise control does not allow for.

Be patient: If the rain becomes too heavy, the advice is simple: pull over! Be patient; your BIG4 accommodation isn’t going anywhere.

Do you have any wet-weather driving tips to add? Please leave a comment below.

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