Motoring corner : “Driving in Rain”

There are lots of hardships caused by the rains on the roads. Many road accidents yearly may be attributed to the rainy conditions. Many of these accidents can be preventable, but are caused by fearless drivers who don’t realize the difference between good and bad weather driving are essentially different.

There are lots of hardships caused by the rains on the roads. Many road accidents yearly may be attributed to the rainy conditions.

Many of these accidents can be preventable, but are caused by fearless drivers who don’t realize the difference between good and bad weather driving are essentially different.

When the road is wet, the layer of the water on the road surface (be gravel or paved) causes tires to lose traction. Less obvious is the fact that rain reduces driver perception. 

It is harder to see through the rain; the decreased visibility through its action on headlights, windshields and the road itself. While most people know to slow down in the rain, there are definitely other tips that will help keep you, and those who share the road with you, from becoming a statistic.

Be extremely careful after a long dry spell. During a dry period, engine oils and grease build up on the road surface over time. On the advent of the first rains, these may mix with water from a new rainfall, the road becomes extremely untrustworthy. Continued rainfall will eventually wash away the oil, but the first few hours can be the most dangerous.

In the event of a rainfall, allow for more travel time. You should plan to drive at a slower pace than normal when the roads are wet. Keep in mind that traffic is likely to be moving slower as well.

There’s also the possibility that your preplanned route may be flooded or jammed. Whatever the case, rushing increases the risks on the road and the chances of getting involved in accidents gets higher.

Brake earlier, slowly and with less force than you would normally have done. Not only does this increase the stopping distance between you and the car in front of you, it also lets the driver behind you know that you’re slowing down.

Also, be more careful about using turn signals, so that other drivers know your intentions, and take turns and curves with less speed than you would in dry conditions. 

If you are driving a modern vehicle that has cruise control, for God sake, don’t use cruise control. If you do so, there’s the chance your car could actually accelerate.  Cruise control also allows drivers to be less vigilant and to take their foot away from the pedals and this is not a great idea when reaction time is so important.

If you see a large puddle of water up ahead, drive around it or choose a different route. It could be that it’s covering a huge gaping or ditch that may be flooded. Well, maybe not, but water splashing up into your car’s engine compartment could damage its internal electrical systems.

Also, a pothole may be hiding under the water, just waiting in ambush to damage a wheel or knock your suspension out of alignment. If you can’t gauge the depth, or if it’s covering up the side curb, try to avoid it.  Don’t attempt to cross running water.

This isn’t an SUV commercial, and you’ll probably get into a hell of lot of trouble if the force of the water is greater than the weight of your vehicle. All-wheel drive isn’t going to be much help if your vehicle is being washed sideways. Don’t end up like those folks on the nightly news who had to abandon their cars to Mother Nature.  After you cross a puddle, tap on your brake pedal lightly to dry off some of the water on your rotors.

Turn on your headlights, even when there’s a light sprinkle. It helps you see the road, and more importantly, it helps other motorists see you. However, don’t blast your high beams in the rain or fog as this will obscure your view further, as the light will reflect back at you off the water droplets in the air.

If your car is equipped with fog lights, you may find it helpful to turn these on, as they throw a little extra light on the road while making your car easier to see. Watch out for pedestrians.

An ordinarily observant pedestrian may become distracted by fiddling with an umbrella or a rain slicker. Plus, raindrops deaden sound, so the usual audio clues for measuring car distances become obscured. Keep a sharp lookout for people in the road. 

If it’s raining so hard that you can’t see the road or the car in front of you, pull over and wait for to reduce; never drive where visibility is near to zero!

motoringcorner@live.co.uk

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