Get ahead of autumn downpours with our wet driving tips
Autumn is here and that means the nights are drawing in, days are getting shorter and wet weather is undoubtedly just around the corner (if it’s not already here).
As a result, we all need to remember the importance of driving safely when the weather takes a turn for the worse, with wet conditions having the potential to cause havoc for motorists who are unprepared.
How to stay safe in the wet
When the heavens do open and the rain begins to pour, motorists must remember some simple rules and behaviour that can help to keep them as safe as possible:
- Slow down when faced with heavy rain – Visibility will be reduced and braking distance can be more than doubled on wet roads.
- Avoid use of Cruise Control – As a driver, you want to be in full control of your vehicle when conditions are less than perfect. Systems that will automatically try to speed you up can be dangerous.
- Check your wipers and keep windows clean – Regular checks on your windscreen wiper blades and keeping your windows clean will help to ensure good visibility all around the vehicle.
- Don’t enter flooded areas – Never enter into an area where flooded roads could obscure potential hazards or obstacles – you never know how deep a flooded area could be.
- Watch out for spray – Driving on busy roads undoubtedly means spray from other vehicles will create poor visibility. Tackle this by maintaining a safe distance from any cars ahead.
Imran Malek, operations manager at www.trackdays.co.uk, highlighted the importance of being prepared for changeable autumnal conditions: “As the weather starts to turn nasty and we head towards the wettest period of the year, it is vital that motorists understand the hazards of driving in the rain.”
Avoid the perils of aquaplaning
One of the scariest hazards drivers can face at this time of year is aquaplaning. This is when the tyres lose contact with the surface of the road and the whole vehicle slides on a thin layer of water.
It is a situation that occurs when the amount of surface water exceeds a vehicle’s tyres’ ability to displace sufficient liquid to maintain contact with the road. This can be an extremely dangerous situation, as the driver effectively loses all control of the vehicle and cannot steer, brake or accelerate.
What’s more, it is a problem made all the more likely when motorists fail to regularly examine the state of their tyres. In order to address this dangerous issue, carry out regular tyre safety checks – this means examining tread depth and looking for signs of excessive wear and tear.
Indeed, Mr Malik notes: “Aquaplaning is a terrifying experience. Knowing what to do could make a real difference, as sometimes our natural reactions could be the wrong ones and make the situation worse.”
What should you do?
If the worst does happen and your vehicle begins to aquaplane, these are the steps you should take to regain control in the safest manner:
- Gently take your foot off the accelerator – avoid the urge to brake, as this may cause you to skid and further lose control of the vehicle.
- Grip the steering wheel firmly and ensure the wheels remains pointed in the preferred direction of travel.
- Allow engine braking to slow you down and, when the tyres regain traction, maintain a slower speed to avoid further aquaplaning.
Ellie Baker, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, comments: “Autumn in the UK is a time renowned for its wet, blustery days and nights. It’s not always easy to stay safe in the wet, but by following our simple advice, it can be done.”back