Sometime last week, I was driving in the rain with someone and as I began to move fast, he started to complain that I was beginning to move a little too fast for weather. I had no problem with my speed (some 60km/hr), but I understood his fear as it is the fear of so many other drivers. I believe it is necessary to educate people on driving in the rain.
Driving in the rain is an everyday occurrence. Rain happens all the time, and people still have to go places even when it’s wet on the roads. But wet weather driving can be hazardous, causing skids, hydroplaning, and slick roads. It can be tough to keep control of your vehicle when roadways are wet, but these tips can help you stay safer.
Tips for driving in the rain.
These tips will help you to tackle rainy roads like an expert — and know when it’s smart to avoid driving, turn around, or pull over to wait for the rain to stop.
- Don’t drive if you don’t have to: In the case heavy rain conditions and flooding, it is often better to stay where you are. Driving through flood can both be dangerous and cause severe damage to your vehicle. There have been situations of people getting large volumes of water into the engine through the air intake leading to severe engine damage, or water getting into the electrical system, leading to electrical faults costing thousands of dollars. If possible, stay out of hazardous rain and wait until the worst has passed before you hit the road.
- Slow down: I know how cool it looks to drive through water on relatively high speed and wrestle the vehicle all the way home, it sure gives the adrenaline rush, but, it is very dangerous. Hydroplaning most often occurs when vehicles are driving too fast. Hydroplaning or aquaplaning is a situation where the car tyres lose contact with the road and slide off in the direction of its will, as a result, accelerating or braking are without effect i.e. there is proper loss of control. Take extra care to slow down when the rain starts, as fresh rain will bring out the oils on the roadway and make conditions more slippery.
- Know how to handle a skid: If your car begins to skid, don’t panic. Just keep steering in the direction you want to go and avoid slamming on your brakes. Slamming on the brakes make as it makes it harder to control your vehicle.
- Be calm if you’re hydroplaning: If your car starts to hydroplane, gently ease your foot off the gas and avoid steering. Just slow down and hold on until your vehicle regains contact with the road.
- Never use cruise control in wet conditions: Using cruise control during wet weather can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Drivers may need to reduce speed by easing off the accelerator to prevent traction loss, but this is not possible when using cruise control. Additionally, the driver must remain fully engaged during wet weather driving, so cruise control should be avoided.
- Turn on your defroster: You really want to see where you are going in the rain. Avoid windshield fogging that can interfere with your visibility by turning on your front and rear defrosters to clear it up.
- Check lights and windshield wipers, too: When driving in the rain, visibility is reduced, hence you need your windshield wipers. Your windshield wipers can clear water quickly and help you see better, while lights give you and other drivers better visibility in the rain and dark. Make sure everything is in working order.
- Turn your lights on: If your windshield wipers are on, your lights should be, too. Headlights can help increase your visibility during the rain and make it easier for other vehicles to see you, avoiding a collision when it’s tough to see through the rain.
- Give extra room to other vehicles: You should always maintain a safe following distance, but be especially careful to give vehicles in front of you plenty of room. That way, you’ll have more time to react to what’s up ahead, and in the case of you aquaplaning, you’ll have enough room to prevent a collision. Be sure to watch carefully for brake lights ahead of you.
- Avoid hard braking: Use your brakes as little as possible, take special care to avoid hard braking if you can. Slow down, give others room, and take your foot off the accelerator fast enough so that you won’t have to slam on the brakes.
- Avoid sudden movements: Gentle steering, braking, and accelerating are best on wet roads. As I’ll normally say, to drive well in the rain, you’ll have to be a smooth operator; smooth on the accelerator, smooth on the brakes, smooth on the steering.
- Stay away from areas prone to flooding: Know which roads in your area are likely to flood and take a different route if you’re experiencing heavy rains.
- Turn around, don’t drown: Driving into flooded areas can be dangerous and even deadly. Drive into a road that’s flooded too deeply, and your car could begin to float and take on water. It can even be washed away — with you in it. Don’t risk it. If you’re not sure how deep the water is, turn around and find another way.
- Never drive off-road during rain: You may become stuck in puddles that you can’t judge the depth of. Don’t drive through moving water if you can’t see the bottom.
- Drive-in another vehicle’s tracks: Make it easy for your tires to handle the water and see what’s up ahead by following in the tracks of a vehicle ahead of you — give them plenty of space.
- Avoid large trucks and buses: Large trucks create large spray when they move through water and this is because they have very large tires. The spray created by large tires can reduce your visibility, so stay away from them if possible.
- Be ready for gusty winds: With rain often comes wind, which can push your car and other vehicles around on the road or cause you to lose control. this is especially common if you’re driving a large vehicle, say an SUV Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel, and be aware that you may be hit with strong gusts.
- Watch for pedestrians: Take care not to splash pedestrians. Watch for puddles along the roadway where they may be walking parallel to you as you drive. If you like, go and splash water on people in Nigeria, they will insult you!
- Drive in the middle lanes: Water tends to pool more in outside lanes, so stick to the middle if possible.
- Check your tires: Your tires are your best friend in wet weather driving, providing traction and keeping you steady on the road. Check your tread and tire pressure to make sure you’re ready to hit the road even when it’s wet.
- Pull over if it’s really bad: If you can’t see cars in front of you or are having difficulty controlling your vehicle, simply pull over and wait for the rain to slow down.
Driving in the rain is one of the tests of a person’s expertise at driving because it requires a greater level of awareness and control. It is necessary to hone the skill as it is important for the safety of you and everyone who is a road user.
I hope you enjoy driving in the rain.
To get tips for driving on the highway, click here