When driving in the rain, you can near guarantee that a crash will occur as soon as it starts raining. Roads are wet, people are in a hurry and the roads are busy. The first 5 or 10 minutes of rain on a dry road is most dangerous because the dry particles of fuel, oil and tyre residue, break up and mix with the rain which creates a thin and slippery coated surface. What a bad combination! To reduce the risk of crashes wet-weather driving requires drivers to slow down and drive to the conditions. Drivers need to understand that environmental factors change many things for drivers. For instance, a safe following distance to the vehicle in front needs to be increased, your vision is reduced and you need to allow more distance to the vehicle in front, when slowing or stopping in traffic.
At some stage throughout any drivers life, they will be required to drive in poor and rainy conditions. Driving in the rain increases the risk of a crash. Fortunately, these safety tips can help you stay safe when driving in the rain or on wet roads.
1. ALLOW ADDITIONAL TRAVEL TIME
Depending on the time of day and how heavy the rain is, you may encounter heavy, slow-moving traffic. And not to mention the possibility of car crashes affecting your route. Where possible and if you’re going to be driving in the rain, it’s a good idea to leave for your destination a little sooner to allow for any problems along the way.
2. TURN YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON
For road safety reasons, many new model vehicles already have LED daytime running lights fitted that operate whenever your vehicle is running. However, if your vehicle only has regular low beam, that’s fine also. Your vehicles headlights can work in two ways – at night to see the road and in poor weather conditions so that other drivers can see you and you can see them. Be seen and make yourself more visible!
3. KEEP A LOOKOUT
Effective scanning skills are one of if not the best skill that any driver or rider can have. It doesn’t matter if the conditions are good or if you’re driving in the rain. Having effective scanning skills will allow drivers to identify problems sooner rather later and in turn, respond sooner rather than later. Always ensure that you look for pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists that may be harder to see in the rain.
4. KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE
Distance is your best friend when following behind another vehicle. Rear-end crashes are one of the most common crash types and in adverse conditions, a 5 second safe following distance is recommended. If things go wrong to the front, you will certainly hope that you have plenty of road to stop safely. Keeping a safe following distance and having effective scanning skills, will allow you more time and distance to react and stop safely for any unexpected hazard or developing hazard.
5. BRAKE SOONER WITH NO SUDDEN BRAKING
Wet roads and rain will increase your overall stopping distance. Sudden braking can cause the tyres to lose traction with the roadway resulting in a loss of vehicle control. Always apply slow and progressive ‘squeezing’ pressure to the brakes sooner to increase the stopping distance and to warn drivers behind you that you’re slowing down.
6. KEEP A CLEAR WINDSCREEN
When driving in the rain, the condensation on the inner surface of your vehicles windscreen, causes it to fog up. This is because the humidity inside the vehicle is higher and the outside temperature is colder. Putting the wipers on will have no effect as the problem is occurring on the inside. When this occurs, your vision slowly decreases. To prevent or fix this from occurring, simply turn the air-conditioner to cold (to the windscreen initially) as well as the front and rear demisters. Make sure that the wiper blades aren’t brittle or damaged and if they are, replace them.
7. ROADWORTHY TYRES
Having roadworthy tyres is an absolute must as they are the only grip that keeps your vehicle safely on the road. It’s important to ensure that you have more than 1.5mm of tread on your tyres as they are designed to disperse and remove water between the tyre and road surface. This is particularly important for wet-weather driving to maintain a good grip. An un-roadworthy tyre that has less than 1.5mm of tread depth, can reduce the tyres ability to grip well on the road and increase the overall stopping distance of your vehicle. Having defective tyres increases the serious risk of losing control in the wet or aquaplaning. From a legal perspective, you may be fined. Another point to consider is that your insurance may be waived if you’re involved in a crash.
8. STOP IF YOU NEED TO
Making it to your destination late is better than not making it there at all. If you’re ever in a situation that makes you uncomfortable or if your visibility is poor due to heavy rain, find a safe place to pull over and stop until the rain eases and you feel comfortable. If stopping at the side of the road is your only choice, make sure that you park well out of the way from other traffic as the visibility of other drivers is reduces. Activate your hazard/warning lights and keep the headlights on so that you can be seen by others easier.