“Heavy thundery downpours” are expected this weekend, so it might not be possible to stay dry – but if you are out on the road there are some things you can do to stay safe.
Here are a few simple steps to reduce the risk of an accident in such circumstances.
1. The first is obvious – and please do it regularly: check your wipers are in proper working condition. I suspect quite a percentage are not, or one of them is streaking the windscreen.
2. Check all your lights are working and that you are well lit up. Being seen is vital.
3. Don’t use your fog lamps every time. It is illegal unless there is heavy fog or really bad visibility. They dazzle oncoming drivers.
4. Leave as much space and reaction time as possible between you and the car in front. Your car will travel much further when you brake in the wet than on a dry surface.
5. Leave four/five seconds to the car in front. Start counting when the vehicle ahead passes a static object such as a road sign. That way you can measure how much time you have to stop. It may mean impatient drivers behind you being too close. Don’t be bullied. Let them pass or pull into a slower lane.
6. If your car should ‘aquaplane’ (when water builds up and affects your tyres’ grip) your steering will feel light and unresponsive. Don’t brake, but slowly ease off the accelerator and slow down. Don’t do anything sudden. The tyres should re-gain grip. Drive slowly and you’ll be alright.
7. Drive on the highest section of the road and don’t set off if a vehicle is approaching you.
8. Leave time and space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians.
9. Drive slowly and keep going once you have started – make sure you have a clear run. In a manual car, keep the revs high by “slipping the clutch” (which means the clutch is not fully engaged) all the time you are in the water.
10. When driving through deep water, never take your foot off the accelerator, as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe.
11. Once you’re out of the water, dry the brakes before you need them. The best way is to lightly apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds, after checking nothing is following you too closely.