Heavy rain is currently sweeping the UK, washing across roads which haven’t seen much water in several weeks. Many motorists won’t have seen rain for quite some time either, so it can be good to brush up on how best to deal with a torrential downpour when driving.
Here, we’ve picked out some of the key tips on how to drive safely in heavy rain and the resulting floodwater.
It’s a pretty basic but easy to remember tip; if rain starts to become particularly heavy then slow down. As roads become wet they become slippery, so give yourself more time to react and ensure that you’re leaving more of a stopping distance between yourself and the car in front.
Furthermore, with roads having been dry for some time they can prove to be even greasier than usual thanks to dust and mud accumulating on the surface. When wet, this can often turn slippery as ice, so slow down for bends more than you might usually.
Switch on your lights
Visibility – both your own and other drivers’ – is paramount when heavy rain strikes, so make sure you’ve got your lights on. On cars with automatic lights we’d advise setting them manually to dipped beam; during daytime hours, these systems can struggle to differentiate between different light levels, which could leave you without any lights on during a heavy rain storm.
Look out for trucks and lorries
Larger vehicles generate more spray than cars and bikes, so make sure you give them plenty of space if you’re passing them. Doing so should help to improve your visibility and avoid the possibility of spray being passed over onto your windscreen.
Keep fog lights switched off
Though it can be tempting to switch on your fog lights when the rain is heavy, this really is counter-productive. Using your foglight can stop your brake lights being seen quite as effectively, and it’s crucial that other road users can see you slowing down in heavy rain.
Not only that, but fog lights could dazzle those driving behind you.
Keep your air conditioning switched on
We’ve all been there; driving rain and a warm car, and before long the windows start fogging up. Quite the distraction, particularly in poor weather, but steamed-up windows can be avoided by making sure that you’ve got your air conditioning switched on.
If a section of water looks deep, take care
Heavy rain which falls in a short period can result in a lot of standing water and this can prove a challenge to drivers. Even if you have to get a bit wet by getting out of the car and judging the amount of water ahead of you by walking through it, it’s better than having a drowned car.
If it seems too deep, then it’s best to go a different way. However, if you think your car can manage it then take things slowly, progressing at a consistent speed through the water. Keep in a low gear with high revs to ensure that you don’t slow down. Then once out of the other side, allow your car to stand for a few seconds to allow the water to drain away. We’d also advise testing the brakes when on the move again to ensure that any water on the discs is removed.