November 25, 2020 at 11:04 AM
With the weather becoming decidedly wintery in recent weeks, with some ice and snow in parts of the UK, we’ve listed some of our top tips to stay safe in all of the road conditions Britons can expect to face in the coming weeks and months.
Driving In Heavy Rain
If you drive in Britain, you will of course be used to driving in the rain, which falls on average on 133 days of the year. But every now and then the weather takes a stormier turn and you might get caught driving in torrential rain which brings with it new challenges.
Before you drive though, there are some things to consider and ways to prepare. Firstly, decide whether the journey is necessary or if it can be delayed – if the rain is torrential and you can avoid driving then it’s worth considering.
If you do have to drive, then let family and friends know and where you are going.
Pre Journey Checklist
To make sure you and your car are ready for the journey, a check on the car and your supplies is always advised. For yourself, it’s always a good idea to have a blanket, food and water and a car emergency kit (hi-vis vest, warning triangle, torch etc) with you in the event of a breakdown, delays or accident.
Then, make sure your car is safe for the journey, starting with your tyres. One of the jobs of the tread patterns on your tyres is to efficiently move water away from the tyre to maximise grip – but this loses it’s effectiveness if the tread is low so make sure your tyres have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. You can check this with a 20p coin – if you insert the coin into the tread and can’t see the outer band, your tyres are legal, if you can see the outer band, it’s time to replace them… urgently!
Next, make sure your wiper blades are in good condition as they will have to work hard to keep your windscreen clear during your journey.
And it’s a great idea to make sure your tank is full, driving in the rain and cold can lead to an increase in your consumption and with an increased likelihood of delays or accidents it’s best to have fuel to spare.
Visibility is one of the things that suffers first, especially in torrential rain as your window wipers can struggle so make sure your windows are clear before and that your wipers don’t have any defects before setting off. If at any point you do feel your wipers aren’t doing enough or aren’t coping with particularly heavy rain – it’s time to pull over until the weather improves.
To aid visibility for other road users, avoid using fog lights (front or rear) as they will dazzle drivers and can make it harder to see your brake lights.
Braking Distances Will Increase
We all know that rain increases braking distances also, so give yourself a lot more time and space to the car in front of you – with a reduction in braking performance and visibility, it’s essential to be overly cautious in moderate to heavy rainfall.
Dealing With A Skid
If you’re steering becomes less or unresponsive, gently lift off of your accelerator and allow the car to slow down as it is a sign of aquaplaning. This occurs when the tyres can’t move enough water out of the way and begin to slip on surface water, which is even more likely with low tread so look after those tyres!
Do not try to cross a road if it’s covered in floodwater. You have no idea what is below the surface and could find that the manhole or drains have been raised, leaving a solid chunk of metal in the road or a massive hole, or that there is other dangerous debris.
It is also dangerous to drive through any standing water at speed as it can cause a loss of control, but it can also cause a lot of damage to your car, so proceed with care. If your engine is flooded it can often mean a new one will have to be fitted so consider whether or not this risk is worth it when approaching any standing water.
Another worry is how deep the water is – it takes around two feet of water to float the average car!!!
Check out our blog with advice on how to drive in snow for when the weather gets extra wintery.