The rainy season is here! Increased rainfall is good news for plants and dams but bad news for drivers. Rainy conditions are directly associated with higher accident rates. Wet roads, low visibility and the possibility that the puddle ahead may be deeper than you think all make for scary and dangerous driving conditions. That’s why it’s important to make sure that both you and your car are rainy season ready. So what can you do to stay safe?
Safety starts before you even start driving. Windshield wipers that leave streaks on your windscreen are going to make it even harder to see in a downpour. Wiper blades should be replaced every six months to a year or as soon as you notice a change in driving visibility.
Tyre tread is always important but especially when driving in rain. Bald tyres – that is tyres that look as if the tread has been worn away – are more likely to slip or skin in wet conditions.
Yes, it’s obvious. But did you know that you should slow down even in a light drizzle? Even a small amount of water can mix with oil on the road, making it easier for your car to slip and slide. Besides, even good tyres will have reduced traction in the rain; slowing down will make skidding less likely.
Pouring rain, wet roads and wet brakes make accidents more likely. Leave a five-second gap between your car and the vehicle in front so that you have enough time to slow down if you need it.
In wet weather, it’s important that you’re in full control of your car. We know that you really want a sip of coffee and you only have to release the wheel for half a minute to grab your cup. But an incident can happen at any moment and you’re more likely to react safely if you’ve got a good grip of the wheel.
In some U.S. states, it’s actually illegal to drive without headlights when it’s raining. That’s because when you’re driving in the rain you need to see and be seen. Not only do headlights make it easier for you to see the road, they help other drivers see you too.
Deep water can seriously damage your car’s electrical system. You could stall. You could lose traction and skid across the road, maybe even crashing. You could splash other drivers and impair their vision. And you have no idea how deep the water actually is. All reasons to drive around that big pool of water on the road.
You’re less alert if you think that your car is doing the driving for you and cruise control can also cause your car to speed up when you should be slowing down. Let’s save this one for dry weather.
Hydroplaning happens if a layer of water builds up between your tyres and the road, leading to a loss of traction. If this happens to you, ease off the gas, gently tap the brakes and steer straight until you’re back in control of the car. If your car starts to skid, look and drive in the direction you want to go. Don’t jerk the wheel sharply and don’t stomp on the brakes.
If the weather is particularly nasty and you haven’t left yet, it may be best to wait until it improves. Yes, we know you passed your driving test (or we hope so) and you may even have been driving for years. But safety should still be your number one priority.