Driving during or just after it has rained can be challenging. From reduced visibility to worsened grip on the road, there are plenty of pitfalls that can cause problems for even the most experienced drivers.
Here are our top tips for safe driving when it’s raining cats and dogs, or even just navigating greasy roads after light rainfall.
This may seem like an obvious one, but going too fast in the wet is asking for trouble. The big problem with rain on the road is the effect that it has on braking distances, and if it’s really heavy, grip. The general rule of thumb is that braking distances almost double at higher speeds (e.g. when travelling on a motorway), meaning you’ll stop twice as far down the road than on a dry day. By travelling slower, you’ll need less space to brake if the traffic suddenly comes to a stop (which will definitely happen on the rainy days, when other sensible drivers decide to reduce their speed and others don’t follow suit).
If you’re driving on roads that have been dry for a while and have suddenly experienced rain, or may have iced over on cold days, lack of grip is the other pitfall to watch out for. Take corners more slowly and don’t accelerate out of them too quickly, or you could end up spinning your car.
If the heavens have truly opened, check out our how to drive through flooded roads guide for top tips on driving on roads that have become completely flooded.
No matter what the weather is doing, Halfords always recommend having the correct amount of tyre tread. Staying as far above the legal limit as possible means your tyres will perform better in the rain, potentially reducing your chances of having an accident, plus you won’t be breaking the law. If you aren’t sure how to check your tyre tread depth, just head to your local Halfords and we’ll take a look for you as part of our free car safety check.
Check the pressure in all four tyres (and any spares if applicable) at least once a week and top up if needed. Underinflated tyres are a leading cause of grip loss on wet roads and will make controlling your car in the event of skidding or aquaplaning more difficult if they aren’t at the correct pressure.
Inflate your tyres to the correct pressure every time with a Halfords Digital Tyre Inflator. There’s even a handy torch on the side if you need to inflate your tyres in the dark!
Watch out for aquaplaning
If you’re driving on the motorway and it’s raining heavily, then aquaplaning can be an especially dangerous hazard. This is where a layer of water builds between your tyres and the road surface, reducing grip completely and increasing the risk of your car spinning out. If you feel the steering wheel go soft and your car moves in any other direction but forward, then you may be aquaplaning. The dangerous aspect of aquaplaning is that you can lose control even when driving in a straight line, so take extra care and consider slowing down if there’s a lot of standing water.
What to do if your car starts to aquaplane:
- Don’t brake suddenly – this can make any sliding or spinning worse.
- Reduce any acceleration in a controlled manner.
- if your car is starting to spin, try to counteract it by the turning the wheel in the other direction. This should be a last resort, as it may have no effect if your car is aquaplaning fully at high speed.
As mentioned, having correctly-inflated tyres with the right amount of tread helps greatly with control in wet conditions.
Check your wiper blades
If you haven’t changed your wiper blades since you got your car, or you haven’t had a look at the rubber for at least a year, then give them a check. Wiper blades that are damaged or degraded won’t do as good a job of clearing your screen, which could obscure your vision. Wiper blades aren’t too expensive to replace and are pretty easy to fit, but Halfords will do it for you – just ask or select ‘add fitting’ at the online checkout. If you’re not sure if your wiper blades need to be changed, then check out our four signs that show it’s time for new wiper blades guide.
If you need new blades, but aren’t sure which ones fit your car, then start with our wiper blade lookup tool.
Wet and wintry roads can soon cause dirt to build up on your windscreen, so keep your washer fluid topped up at all times. A 5L Berry Screenwash will not only wash away road grime, but also rain that is clinging to your windscreen.
For a truly innovative way of ensuring a clear windscreen on every journey, it might be worth considering our Duxback glass treatment. With the help of a specially formulated hydrophobic layer applied to your windscreen (or any other glass on your vehicle), water and wet grime doesn’t stick to the glass. This means that at speeds of over 40mph, water will simply blow off your screen, so you likely won’t need to use your wipers at all!
With these handy tips, you should now be clued up on wet weather driving! Just remember that safer driving in wet weather also includes basic car maintenance, so look after your vehicle and it may end up looking after you. If you’re lucky enough to be experiencing the opposite of wet weather, then don’t forget to check out our driving in bright and low sun: top tips article too!