Whilst you’ll probably want to spend all winter curled up inside binging Netflix and eating everything in sight – unfortunately, life does go on and you’ll likely find at some point (let’s be honest, sooner rather than later) that you’ll be faced with dealing with adverse weather conditions such as driving in the rain – and not just a drizzle, come on we’re in the UK – it’s more than likely going to be a full-on downpour.
Now we would say that you shouldn’t drive in poor weather conditions unless you absolutely must – but if you do have to, here’s what you need to know.
How to drive a car in the rain
There are lots of different things you’ll have to deal with in order to drive safely in the rain. Reduced visibility, lack of control, and generally feeling quite nervous about driving are just some of the things you’ll be facing. Unfortunately, driving in heavy rain at night makes it even worse as you have to completely concentrate on every aspect of your driving and remain extra vigilant on what other drivers are doing. Here’s some tips for driving in heavy rain:
- The speed limit isn’t the suggested speed. This is crucial to remember! Just because you’re driving in a 40mph zone, doesn’t mean you have to be driving at 40mph. Drive slower and keep your distance from other vehicles. Slow and sensible driving will help you avoid aquaplaning.
- Turn your lights on in the daytime. You need to make sure other vehicles can see you, and heavy rain can really obscure your view. If in doubt, put your dipped headlights on, even if it’s in the day!
- Don’t use cruise control in the rain. You need to keep at a low speed and have ample time to react to your surroundings, so it’s best to avoid using cruise control in adverse weather conditions.
- Ensure you regularly check your car - your wiper blades will be working overtime in heavy rain so you need to ensure they’re in good condition and replaced if needed before it starts to rain!
Driving in the rain at night
Driving in the dark is generally more difficult anyway, so adding in very heavy rain can take it from difficult to dangerous. It’s important to remember that if you can, you should avoid driving in heavy rain in the dark. If you do need to go out, here are some driving in heavy rain safety tips for night time.
- Know your car lights! Making sure your lights are on and you’re using the correct ones. At night, especially in heavy rain, you need to make sure you are seen. Top tip - try to avoid using your full beam lights in the heavy rain. Full beam headlights not only risk dazzling other drivers, but will reflect off the rain, making it more difficult to see.
- Make sure you take your time, and don’t let other drivers pressure you into driving faster than you’re comfortable with. Also make sure you’re keeping significant space between yourself and the car in front of you.
- If you’re not comfortable driving in heavy rain in the dark, then don’t! The most important thing is you feel safe and in control of the car so if you’re not confident, stay at home and wait for the rain to pass before you head out.
What do you do when you start to aquaplane?
Driving in extremely heavy rain is difficult and driving fast in the rain can cause you to Aquaplane. Aquaplaning or hydroplaning can occur when you’re travelling too fast in heavy rain conditions. This can cause your tyres to travel on a thin layer of water on the road and not the surface of the road.
If this happens, the first thing to remember is not to panic. We know you want to get out of the situation, but you need to remain as calm as possible and in control. If you do start to Aquaplane - here is what you should do:
- Take your foot off the accelerator. Also, avoid using your brake, as this will cause your car to skid completely out of control.
- Gently turn the wheel. Sounds strange, but if you do lose control and the back of your car shoots in one direction, you need to gently steer the same way. This will realign your tyres and help you regain control of the direction you’re travelling.
- Wait until the wheels are back on the ground. You’ll get a feeling when the car is back on the road, which is when it is safe to continue driving.
- Take a moment. You’ll likely be shaken up from the ordeal. Consider pulling over somewhere safe and taking a few moments to calm down before carrying on your journey.
Driving in high winds
You probably wouldn’t realise, but driving in heavy wind is just as dangerous as driving in rain, snow and ice. All crazy weather conditions come with their own risks to drivers, and the wind is no exception. Strong winds can occur anywhere but will take more of a toll on you when you’re driving in an open space (such as wide roads). Follow these tips to help you keep in control when it’s more than breezy outside.
- Anticipate gusts of wind. You should take extra care when you drive through areas that are prone to strong winds (the sign helps with that)!
- Lorries are not your friend. When it comes to windy days, you should be very cautious of large vehicles such as lorries, tractor-trailers and other RVs. The wind combined with tall vehicles means they’ll likely have trouble staying in their own lane – so best to avoid overtaking them.
- Keep two hands on the wheel. We’re sure you do anyway, but if the wind begins the move your car (which is likely in the winter months), you’ll need to have full control over the car and the direction you’re heading.
We can give you all the tips in the world, but the main thing to remember is that if you don’t need to drive, don’t. It'll be much easier to avoid an accident if you’re at home under a blanket with a cuppa!
Did you know?
Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is illegal to drive "without reasonable consideration for other persons". This means you could receive a £5,000 fine for driving through a puddle causing pedestrians to be splashed.