The UK is well known for its rainy weather, and with autumn now on our doorstep it’s set to increase from what we’ve experienced over summer. With this in mind, it’s important to remind ourselves of the hazards that come with driving in wet and windy conditions. These conditions can cause skids, hydroplaning and slick roads so it’s essential that you are prepared. Our list of tips will ensure you are, and will keep you as safe as possible when driving in wet weather.
Plan your route first
If you’re commuting locally, plan your route in advance around areas that you know are prone to flooding or becoming hazardous when it rains. This includes motorways and fast-flowing roads, which are some of the most common roads to cause hydroplaning. Small country roads are also advised against in heavy rain, as mud on the road can reduce traction further.
When driving in the rain it’s important to reduce your speed as hydroplaning most often occurs when vehicles are driving too fast. This means you’ll also need to plan on leaving earlier if you’re in a rush, as travel times are longer and traffic around you will also be moving slower. This is most relevant when rainfall first starts, as fresh rain will bring out the oils on the road to make conditions slicker – so take extra care.
Avoid using cruise control
Cruise control is a very handy tool, but it can become dangerous when driving in wet weather conditions. It can cause you to lose control of your vehicle through areas with puddles and potential for hydroplaning as, where you would usually ease off the throttle, it would continue to maintain the speed it is set at. To add onto this, cruise control can reduce driver engagement and it is important to keep fully aware when driving in the rain.
Especially in heavy rain, driving gently can be a great way to avoid a loss of traction or skid. This means accelerate, brake and corner slowly and progressively – one of the main reasons cars lose traction in wet weather is due to sudden actions, which puts stress on the tyres and causes them to skid.
Don’t risk flooded water
Driving through flooded areas can be dangerous and even deadly. Floods are very hard to predict, and if predicted wrongly your engine can flood as well as the rest of your car. Check depth gauges where possible, but if you’re not sure just turn around and find another way – it isn’t worth the risk.
Know what to do if you lose control
If you do lose control, either through a skid or hydroplaning, don’t panic. Skidding can be scary, but focus on continuing to steer in the direction you want to go and avoid pressing your brakes hard as it makes it harder to control your vehicle. If you experience hydroplaning when driving in wet weather, gently ease your foot off the accelerator and avoid steering. Wait until your vehicle regains contact with the road surface before pressing the throttle again.
Prepare for windy weather
Rainfall is often accompanied by gusty winds, so be prepared for this scenario. Wind can cause your car to move sideways and upsets its balance on the road. Concentrate on your steering, with a firm grip on the wheel, and keep your distance from larger vehicles that may be more susceptible to wind.
Check your tyres
Checking your car’s tyres is a very important part of being able to handle wet weather. They are the only point of contact between your car and the road, providing traction and keeping you steady. Ensure they have plenty of tread and are not cracking on the edges. This ensures they are able to displace water efficiently to reduce the chance of a skid.
Pull over and wait
If conditions are getting so bad that you are struggling to see cars in front of you or are having difficulty controlling your vehicle, it would be safest to pull over and wait for the worst of the rain to pass.