Winter doesn’t always bring snow, but it quite often brings heavy rain, which can be as difficult to drive in due to reduced visibility. There is also the possibility of flooding in times of consistent heavy rain. Here’s how to remain safe in such conditions.
The first step is, as always, to ensure you are well prepared before you set off on any journey. Breakdowns are more likely in wet weather as the damp can cause problems with electrical systems and engines. Plan your journey, and ensure you have the number of your breakdown provider to hand, as well as a fully charged phone and anything else you may need – blankets if it’s cold, wellies and waterproof clothing, and a bottle of water.
On the road
There are a few basic things you can do when driving in heavy rain to make your journey safer. Use dipped headlights so that you are clearly visible to other cars and leave plenty of space between your car and the one in front to allow for greater stopping distances.
Go at a slower speed than normal, particularly on motorways. Heavy rain means lots of spray occurs on faster roads and worsens visibility, so reducing your speed will help you stay safe. Take extra care when overtaking and using slip roads.
When driving through urban and residential areas, be considerate of pedestrians and cyclists and try not to spray them as you drive through water.
Driving through deep standing water is most likely to cause major problems, as water can get sucked up into the car’s engine causing it to lock up. This often results in the need for a completely new engine, which is costly and inconvenient. It’s best to find another route if the road is blocked by deep water rather than trying to get through it.
If you do come to some standing water and you’re not sure how deep it is, use the kerb as an indicator. If it’s shallow enough to drive through, drive slowly and steadily to avoid creating a bow wave and do not stop until you have left it. Once out, test your brakes to ensure they are still effective.
If there are patches of very shallow standing water on the road, take your time to drive through them slowly. Driving too fast can cause aquaplaning, where your tyres lose contact with the road. If the steering suddenly feels light, you need to ease off the accelerator to regain grip. Don’t brake as this could cause skidding.