It’s that time of the year again when we experience rainfalls almost every other day. So, the chances of having a daily experience driving in the rain are very high. Despite the rain and wet roads, people still have to make the commute to the office, church, school or market.
Whether it’s a slight drizzle or a heavy downpour, driving in the rain or wet roads can be a challenging and perilous endeavour. This is often because of such things like hydroplaning, skids and slick roads. It’s even more hazardous in a place like Nigeria, especially as most of the roads are laden with potholes which get subsumed by water during the raining season.
Safely driving in the rain is perhaps one of the challenges that many drivers face on a regular basis during the season. There are a lot of elevated risks whenever there’s a rainfall or when the roads are still wet from a previous downpour.
Although it can be tough keeping control of your vehicle when roads are wet and behind a rain-splattered windshield, it is very necessary for your safety that you do not panic or get agitated in the process. Feelings like these do more harm than good.
As a driver, you should be sensitive to varying levels of weather conditions. When confronted with unfriendly weather, it is wise to either cancel or reschedule the trip.
However, you can’t cancel going to work or school because of rainfall. So, in this article, we outline safety tips you can apply when driving in the rain.
What can Driving in the Rain Possibly Cause?
- When driving in the rain, things could easily go sideways as rain causes tyres to lose traction making it hard for them to maintain a strong grip.
- The flooding caused by rain hides various road hazards like potholes, debris and puddles.
- It’s harder to see in the rain, so applying breaks suddenly is difficult as you could lose your grip when braking.
- The frequency of car breakdowns always increases during the rainy season. This is because driving in a severe downpour and high waters can most likely cause damage to the car.
Safety Tips You Should Apply When Driving in the Rain
First and foremost, when driving in the rain, it is important that you take a moment to critically assess the severity of the situation. If the road is completely flooded such that you cannot decipher between the main road and the drainages, kindly park the vehicle until the road situation becomes clearer.
Below are safety measures you must apply appropriately when driving in the rain:
1. Keep Headlights On
Your vehicle headlights are not meant to be used at night time driving only. When driving in the rain, you must keep your headlights on at all times –both day time and night time. This is a very underrated and forgotten precaution.
Keeping headlights on is a necessary safety measure when it’s raining or misty. It will enhance your visibility on the road and help other drivers see your car as well. However, you do not need to turn on the brightest head lamp. Brighter light will only reflect off the wet surfaces, bounce back into your eyes and irritate other drivers.
2. Slow Down
Most motorists drive too fast on wet roads, enjoying the water splashing all around them. While this may seem cool, speeding in the rain is actually life threatening. When it’s raining, you have to slow down on the road for your own good.
When it rains, the road gets slippery and slick. Fresh rain also brings out the oils and grease film produced by cars on roadways, making it even slicker. Reducing speed maximizes safety.
If you are driving too fast, your vehicle is at risk of hydroplaning. Thus, the safest option is to drive significantly slower than normal. Wet roads are risky and as such, the time it will take for your vehicle to react at all will be slow.
3. Avoid Driving At All
Unless you are already on the road when it starts to rain, it’s not a bad idea to forfeit a road trip. But if the trip is important, assess the severity of the weather and ask yourself if you are prepared to handle it at the moment.
In heavy rain conditions and cases of flooding, it is most often safer to stay put and wait it out before you hit the road.
4. Be Wary of Hydroplaning
Hydroplaning is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the rain and on wet roads. Hydroplaning occurs when there is a build-up of water between the road surface and the car tyres.
When this film of water gets caught between the road and the tyres, it causes the car to skid, making it even harder to slow down or come to a halt.
Driving at a speed faster than normal, say, 35 miles/per hour or perhaps faster into a puddle (stagnant water) puddles causes hydroplaning.
Note that there’s an increased risk of hydroplaning if your tyres are wearing out. Therefore, always check the tread depth of your tyres regularly.
An effective measure against hydroplaning is to slow down when it starts to rain. But if your car starts to hydroplane, don’t panic just slow down some more. You achieve this by easing the pressure on the gas pedal or taking your foot off it completely for the vehicle to slow down. The next step is to slowly steer in the same direction you are hydroplaning until you can control it.
This may sound absurd or even contradictory, but doing exactly that will actually help realign your tyres with your vehicle so that they both move in the same direction. Remember, your steering has to be slow. Try not to jerk the wheel or flip your car. Find a balance.
5. Maintain a Good Distance from other Cars
Make sure you have enough space when driving in the rain, misty and wet weather conditions. It is important that you leave more room between yourself and the car in front. You can do this by increasing your following distance to five seconds (or more) behind any vehicle ahead of you. This will make it nearly impossible for you to hit anything at all.
You might be driving on a highway with several lanes on a rainy day. Thus, ensure to keep an open space on one side of your vehicle at least at all times. By doing this, even if you do not have enough time to hit the brakes, you would be able to immediately swerve right or left if the need arises.
6. Make Use Of Air Conditioning
With rain comes humidity, and humidity causes fogging. Fogging is one of the worst things to encounter when driving in the rain. Cars tend to fog up because the temperature outside does not match the temperature inside the vehicle.
To prevent your windows from getting fogged up when it rains, turn on the air conditioner and set the temperature to match the one outside. This will stop the windshield from getting all fogged up and enhance visibility.
But if that doesn’t work out, pull your car over and open a window or two to ventilate the vehicle. You could choose to use a towel or a cloth to wipe the windshield whenever it gets fogged up but this solution is far from permanent.
7. Stay Away from Flooded Areas.
Avoid puddles and flooded areas at all cost, especially if you are not familiar with the road. It is highly unsafe. If you drive into a flood too deep, your car could float as it takes on water and worse, it might even get washed away with you in it.
Make it a point to gauge the depth and be very familiar with the roads you’re on. If you’re not so certain about just how deep the water might be, lay off the road or simply find another way.
Don’t get too excited by the big splash created when driving through a huge puddle or flood. It’ll cost you. Water could very easily enter the engine compartment of the car and damage internal systems. Find a middle lane if you can and drive in it.
Driving in the rain requires an extra level of carefulness. If you do not take certain safety measures into action, you may have an accident.
Most drivers reduce speed as their only safety precaution in the rain. Although it is crucial in driving safely in wet conditions, other safety actions should not be ignored.
Many of these other safety tips above may look like common sense but it’s not wrong to run through a mental checklist before and when you drive in the rain. At the end of the day, arriving safely at your destination is the ultimate goal.