Autumn’s here and torrential storms and rain are sweeping the country – so make sure you know how to keep yourself safe when behind the wheel.
If you need proof of how poor driving and wet weather can lead to serious accidents then look no further than the pic posted by North West Motorway Police last week – it shows a mangled car that had smashed into a motorway barrier on the M62 during heavy rain. While the driver thankfully survived, the police are asking drivers to take extra care when travelling in wet weather.
To help you stay safe on the road, here are our six top tips for driving in the rain:
1. Check tyre treads
As well as basic vehicle maintenance, always keep an eye on your tyre treads – it’s essential they are inflated to the correct levels (check the owner’s manual) plus have enough tread to give you grip in adverse conditions.
Do make sure you’re not one of the 65% who say they don’t know that the legal tyre depth is 1.6mm across the tyre’s central three quarters; 27% who have failed to check their tyres in the past three months; or even one of the 13% who knowingly drive round with bald tyres.
If you’re unsure how to check your tyres, then watch this:
2. Remember stopping distances
Rain means extended stopping distances. Stopping in the dry takes 12 metres when braking from 20mph but that figure doubles in the rain. So if you’re doing 70 on, say, a dual carriageway, you’ll need to leave a space of 200 metres between you and the vehicle in front to give you enough time to brake in an emergency. To get your head round stopping distances, check out our guide to the lifesaving two-second rule here.
3. Watch out water
Rain can cause chaos on our road networks. On town roads, it can mean the risk of spraying pedestrians or cyclists – and a fine of up to £5,000. Out on faster moving roads, the risks of aquaplaning are greatly increased. This is where all four tyres lose traction, leading to a potentially catastrophic loss of control. To ensure you don’t fall victim to aquaplaning, slow right down and avoid driving through standing/moving water if at all possible.
4. Get pro advice
Request a lesson with your driving instructor when it’s forecast to rain. They can give excellent advice and guidance for staying safe plus if it’s your first time driving in the wet stuff, you will have a seasoned expert sat right alongside you.
5. Use common sense
To stay safe, check your wipers are fit for the job, put on your dimmers, keep your windscreen demisted, and most important, if the rain becomes too heavy, pull up to the side of the road and wait for the deluge to subside.
6. Oh, and keep your windscreen clean
That might sound confusing – the rain and wipers are keeping it clear, right? But when the rain stops, crud often gets thrown up on to your windscreen by cars overtaking you or traveling in front of you, obscuring your view.
Yes, you’re all good if you’ve been keeping an eye on your washer levels. However, if you haven’t and are driving round with mud and grit all over your windscreen, side and back windows, you could find yourself on the receiving end of up to nine points on your licence and a fine of up to £5,000.