How to drive safely in the rain

Slowing down and maintaining a safe distance to the car in front are just two things to remember when you're driving in wet weather.

How to drive in the rain

Heavy rain and flooding have hit parts of Britain over recent weeks, resulting in hazardous driving conditions.

In wet weather, stopping distances are at least DOUBLE those required on dry roads. This is because your tyres have less grip on the road.

The ‘two-second rule’ no longer applies, with the Highway Code advising drivers to allow at least twice the distance on wet roads. Further advice includes:

  • If the steering becomes unresponsive, it probably means that water is preventing the tyres from gripping the road. This is called aquaplaning. Ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually, maintaining a good grip of the steering wheel. The car will regain its grip as the water clears.
  • Rain and spray from vehicles may make it difficult to see and be seen.
  • Spilt diesel may make the surface very slippery, especially after a prolonged period of dry weather.
  • Take extra care around pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders.

Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards at IAM RoadSmart, said: “With the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the rubber (wipers and tyres) in good condition will help you stay safe.

“In the recent extremes, we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible, avoid driving through standing water. If you’re in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it’s best not to take any chances.”

Further advice for driving in rain

How to drive in floods

IAM RoadSmart has the following additional advice for driving in the rain, including what to do in a flood.

  • If you need windscreen wipers, you need your headlights. Automatic lights may not activate in bad weather, so make a sensible decision as to whether these need to be turned on. Daytime running lights are not suitable in heavy rain, especially as your rear lights may not be illuminated.
  • Keep your windscreen clean, the wipers in good condition, and the washer jets positioned correctly.
  • If you approach a flood, ask yourself some questions, for example:
    • Can you find an alternative route? If the standing water is more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. If in doubt, stay out.
    • What caused the flood? If it was a burst water main, the road surface may be completely broken up.
    • Are other vehicles able to get through? If not, find an alternative route.
    • Is the water fast flowing? If it is, DO NOT drive through the flood – there’s a danger your car could be swept away.
  • If you drive through standing water, do it slowly. Press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on the accelerate to increase engine revs. Do so without increasing your speed to precent water from entering the exhaust. When you have passed through the flood, test your brakes to make sure they are dry and operating correctly.
  • Remember, you could receive a fixed penalty and three points on your licence for accidentally splashing pedestrians. Do it deliberately and you could receive a court order and a fine.

Click here for tips on how to drive in summer rain.

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Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Writer with a penchant for #FrenchTat. Also doing a passable impression of Cousin Eddie in an Italian-German beige motorhome.


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