We’ve put together some of the best advice for car drivers, on driving safely in wet weather or when there’s a risk of flooding.
Be Rain Ready
In a country where there is a lot of rain, you’d assume that we’d be prepared for driving in it. Often, we’re not. It always helps to take a minute or two to make sure both you and your car are prepared.
- It may sound simple, but plan your journey. Check broadcast and online traffic and weather updates for flooded areas, blocked roads and rain forecasts.
- Check your windscreen wiper blades and lights are working properly. You’ll need them!
- Check your tyres. Make sure they are up to scratch, with the correct tread depth and that they’ve enough air in them. Defective tyres are a leading cause of accidents in wet conditions.
- Make sure you and your car have enough fuel. You do not want to get stuck somewhere with a car running on fumes and a driver distracted by thirst or hunger.
- Bring a fully charged mobile phone with you. You may need it if you do happen to get stuck in traffic or worse still, a flooded area.
- Bring a tow rope. Hopefully you won’t need it, but just in case…
Use Your Lights
It’s surprising the number of drivers that leave their lights off in bad weather. Keeping you dipped headlights on can help avoid accidents.
- Get used to putting your dipped headlights on in winter or during bad weather. Switching on your lights as soon as you start your car no matter what the weather, is a good habit to get into.
- Even if you can see other vehicles approaching, don’t assume their drivers can see you, if you’ve no lights on. Be seen. Keeping your dipped headlights on is vital to letting other road users know that you’re there. It’s simple and effective.
You Have Got to Slow Down and Keep Your Distance
- Reduce your speed. This cannot be repeated enough. Even driving at your normal speed can be hazardous in very wet conditions. Slowing down will give you more control and lessen the effects, should you skid or encounter other difficulties.
- Stopping distances in rainy conditions more than double. Leave a lot more space between you and the vehicle in front. Never feel pressurised by other drivers, to speed up, when you know that it may be dangerous. Trust your judgement.
Be Aware of Other Road Users
- Always look out for large or fast-moving vehicles approaching. You should slow down as cars and large vehicles can create a lot of spray which could reduce your visibility. Make sure to keep your windows demisted and the air con on.
- Please keep an eye out for more vulnerable road users, like people on motorbikes or cyclists. A cyclist may have to swerve slightly to avoid a waterfilled pothole or dangerous flooded area. Make sure to slow down when you see a cyclist. Give them plenty of room. Keep and eye out for motorcyclists. They may be harder to spot in bad conditions. Never, ever be that person who drives at speed through a puddle at a bus stop, spraying dirty water over all the people waiting on the bus! Watch out for pedestrians. Try not to soak them.
How to Drive Through Puddles and Floods
- The first point to mention here is; if you think it’s more of a flood than a puddle, you might want to reconsider driving through it at all. If other road users are turning back from a flooded area, it’s a good sign to do the same.
- If you are unsure of the depth of a puddle, get out and check the depth with a stick or other available object. Check for rocks or debris. If you think it’s safe to drive through, do so, slowly. Avoid driving through more than 6 inches or 150mm of standing water.
- Stay on the highest part of the road. Drive through very slowly, in first gear at about 2-3 kmph (1-2 mph) on entering the puddle and exit at about 4-6 kmph (3-4mph) to create a bow wave, keeping water out of your engine.
- When you come out of a waterlogged area, dry your brakes by using them gently.
Avoid Flowing Flood Water
- The best available advice is not to try to drive through flood water at all. People often underestimate the power of water. If the water is fast flowing, do not attempt to drive through. Vehicles can be very easily swept away. Don’t take the risk.
What to Do if Your Car Skids...
- If you skid, keep your eyes on the direction you want to travel.
- Do not brake
- Ease off the accelerator
- Very gently turn the steering wheel in the direction that the car is skidding; if the car is skidding left, turn the wheel left. This will help the car level up.
It’s easy to get into a state of panic when you skid. Try not to and focus on using the technique to get your car steady again.
What is Aquaplaning & What to Do When it Happens
Aquaplaning feels as though your car is skimming the water and not really in contact with the road surface. Your steering may suddenly fell light and unresponsive.
- Take your foot off the accelerator
- Do not brake
- When your car finds traction again, gently steer in the direction you wish to go.
- When you feel friction, you may brake, very gently.
Be More Careful
Avoid sharp manoeuvres like quick acceleration, sudden braking or sharp turning, when driving in wed conditions. Only overtake if it is absolutely necessary. Don’t use cruise control when approaching puddles or flooded areas. Drive calmly, slowly and don’t take risks you may regret.
If You Break Down
- Call for assistance
- Keep your hazard lights on
- If your stuck in a puddle, don’t open the car door, letting in water.
- It might sound obvious, but kep the car bonnet closed!
If You are in Involved in an Accident