Decide if your journey is essential
If a storm is brewing and the weather looks set to be very wet and windy, it’s worth considering whether your journey is essential or not. The safest thing to do in wet weather is to avoid the roads altogether. If you can, postpone your journey or choose an alternative mode of transport.
Test your wipers
There are many things you can do to make sure your car is wet weather ready. The first is to make sure your wipers are working correctly. Wipers should be changed regularly as worn blades can smear the windscreen and make it tough to see in low light. Make sure that your windscreen is clean, your screen wash is full, and that the wipers are the right size for your vehicle. Keeping your air conditioning on can also help prevent your windscreen steaming up.
Make sure your tyres are safe
Wet slippery roads put your tyres to the test; if they’re under-inflated or worn it can be easy to lose grip on the road. To help prevent dangerous skids and slides, make sure that your car tyres are the recommended legal tread depth of 1.6mm.
Reduce your speed
As tempting as it is to hit the gas, it’s harder to control your car at speed, especially in wet weather. With stopping distances also increasing in the rain, reducing your speed gives you more time to react to the conditions and vehicles around you. You should also drive with your headlights dipped and avoid using rear fog lights as they can blind other drivers and obscure your brake lights and indicators.
Look out for large and fast-moving vehicles
When driving on the motorway, it’s important to watch out for large and fast-moving vehicles. Speeding cars and large lorries can all cause spray, which can make it harder to see. Stay alert when passing these vehicles and keep your own speed steady so you can react quickly if needed. It’s also good practice to avoid driving over wet leaves on the ground as these can force you into a skid.
Don’t splash pedestrians
Not only is it cruel to purposely splash pedestrians in wet weather, it’s against the law. You could be prosecuted under Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act for careless, aggressive, or inconsiderate behaviour on the road and end up facing a £150 fine and three penalty points.
Driving through surface water and puddles
As with all the tips on our list, if you can avoid driving through surface water, you should. However, if you’ve no choice but to drive through a puddle, be mindful of its depth – just a foot of water is enough to float a car! In fact, driving in deep water can severely damage your vehicle, cause you to stall, and harm the engine.
When you approach surface water, make sure you slow right down and stay in a low gear to maintain as much control as possible. And if the road isn’t flat, try to drive on the highest part of the road where the water is likely to be shallower.
Aquaplaning: what is it and how should you react?
Aquaplaning could happen whenever there’s surface water on the road. It’s dangerous as it could lead you to lose control of your vehicle and increase the chances of being involved in a collision. It happens when a layer of water builds up between your tyres and the road surface, which stops them gripping properly.
If your steering suddenly feels light, your revs are increasing or your engine noise gets louder, you could be aquaplaning. It can be a frightening feeling but it’s important to stay calm; any sudden movements could cause your car to skid or slide.
Don’t brake! Instead, gently ease off the accelerator, hold your steering wheel straight, and allow your speed to reduce until you regain full control.
What happens to stopping distances in wet weather?
According to the Highway Code, stopping distances can more than double in wet conditions. This means that it could take 46 metres to stop at 30mph or 146 metres at 60mph.
When driving in normal conditions, you should allow at least a two-second gap between you and the car ahead, but this should increase to at least four seconds in wet weather.