Professional tips for driving in the wet and the rain from a leading driving education provider
It’s clear that not every driver on the road knows how to drive in the rain, so now the professionals are getting involved to tell us the ‘proper’ way of doing things! These driving behaviours may be considered common sense to some but not to all.
IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) Roadsmart is the largest independent road safety charity in the UK and has been making roads safer through training courses and education since 1956.
Here are some tips from IAM Roadsmart’s very own Richard Gladman, the organisation’s head of driving and riding standards:
Keep a 4-second distance to the car in front
In the dry, the DVLA recommends keeping a distance of 2 seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front. In wet conditions, especially when it’s raining, the DVLA recommends keeping a distance of 4 seconds and Gladman agrees. When driving on ice, IAM Roadsmart recommend keeping a distance of up to 10 times the amount you normally would in dry conditions, meaning up to 20 seconds!
Make sure your wipers are effective
“Your windscreen should be clean, wipers effective and the jets positioned correctly and aimed at the screen” Gladman explains. Inefficient wipers can be a serious danger in heavy downpours as you could be left driving blind. Poor visibility paired with poor grip is a recipe for disaster.
If wipers are on, headlights should be too
According to Gladman, your headlights should be on if your wipers are. As in the point mentioned above, visibility can be an issue when it’s raining and even if you can see fine, other drivers may not be able to. Having your headlights on greatly increases how visible you are to other road users, meaning that they’re less likely to crash into you!
Don’t panic if you aquaplane
“Aquaplaning is where a wedge of water forms in front of the tyre and lifts it up off the road surface.” explains Gladman. To successfully recover from aquaplaning, do not make quick and drastic steering motions or stamp on the brakes. Instead, try to calmly ease off the accelerator and firmly grip the wheel to allow the car to regain its grip naturally.
Avoid floods of over 6 inches
Floods happen and sometimes cannot be avoided. That being said, the first thing you should do is consider an alternative route and think about if you can go a different way. If you can’t, IAM Roadsmart recommends not driving through floods that are more than 6 inches deep.
Think about what has caused the flood
IAM Roadsmart also recommends to consider what caused the flood. If the flood has not occurred due to the rain then perhaps it was caused by a burst water main. This can be more dangerous as the road surface below the flood could be covered in debris or even completely broken.
Are similar vehicles driving through the flood without an issue?
A tip you may not have thought of before is to look at the vehicles going through the flood. If only large SUVs are braving it and you’re riding in a saloon, perhaps give it a miss.
Avoid fast-flowing water at all costs
A lot of floods can be navigated with caution but IAM Roadsmart labels floods with fast-flowing water an absolute no-go. Even if the water flow doesn’t look particularly powerful, it could still be more than enough needed to sweep your car off its feet.
Drive slowly through floods and dry your brakes after
If you do decide to drive through a flooded road, be sure to do it very slowly and with extreme caution. You may be tempted to drive full-throttle through the water but this is never a good method as the engine will likely be flooded with water and your tyres will lose contact with the road.
IAM Roadsmart recommends to stay at a constant slow speed and once out of the flood, be sure to test your brakes to make sure they are working, dry and nothing is caught in them.
Modern saloons should avoid floods
According to IAM Roadsmart, modern saloons should avoid floods as a lot of them have air intakes in the wheel arch which will allow water to pass into the engine with ease. Many luxury saloons are also quite low to the ground which makes them even less suited for flooding.
Splashing pedestrians could result with points on your license
Even if it’s accidental, a splashed pedestrian has the power to report you to the authorities and land you a fine and 3 points on your license for driving without due care and attention. If done deliberately it could be a public order offence, requiring a court appearance and a fine.
Be safe out there!
If you enjoyed this, you may also like to read our article on Jeep’s awful crash safety scores.
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