How to drive safely in heavy rain

26 November 2019 / Lindleys Autocentres

Getting caught in a torrential downpour when driving can be quite daunting, especially if you’re a newly qualified driver or even an elderly driver.

What’s important to remember when driving in heavy rain at night, or even in the day, is that you must remain confident and alert to your surroundings and on the road.

In this article, we’ll cover;

  • How can I prepare for driving in heavy rain?

  • What to do when caught in heavy rain?

  • How to drive through floods and water?

  • How far back should I stay from the car in front?

How can I prepare for driving in heavy rain?

We’ve put together a checklist of things you should check:

Outside the vehicle

  • Tyres fully pumped and the tread isn’t worn

  • Oil topped up to the correct amount

  • Screenwash topped up to the correct amount

  • Wiper blades working correctly and not dirty

  • Lights fully working and not full with condensation

  • Car is clean and the driver can see clearly

  • Brake lights are working and can be seen correctly

Inside the vehicle

  • Heating/air conditioning working correctly

  • No emergency lights on the dashboard

  • Car is generally overall ok (steering, gears, clutch, brakes)

  • An emergency pack is included in the car in case of breaking down

  • A spare tyre or puncture sealant is in the car

If your vehicle ticks most of these boxes then you should be prepared in the eventuality of being stuck in a storm. If for whatever reason your car has some of these issues (some are more serious than others) think twice before heading out.

This checklist is only applicable to knowing ahead of time that you may be driving in rain. If you’re driving and haven’t checked the weather or the weather just changes, the advice below can help you maintain your nerve and confidence at the wheel.

What to do when caught in heavy rain

If you have ever been driving where the rain is so heavy that your visibility drops to a low percentage, it can seem quite daunting.

It is important to use your wipers to their full potential so that you are doing your best to see the road and the cars in front of you. 

Maintain your composure and try to remain calm. If you start to get nervous and would prefer to wait for the shower to pass, pull over only where and when it is safe to do so. 

If you’re on the motorway or an area where you can’t pull over, reduce your speed to match the flow of traffic, keep a safe driving distance from the cars in front of you and carefully continue driving.

The reason why you need to reduce speed and keep a safe distance (two cars’ length) is if you continue driving at 70mph on a motorway, there is a higher chance of skidding on the road in water. Furthermore, braking distances are increased when driving at a higher speed and when suddenly braking can also result in losing control of the car and skidding.

This is why we would recommend driving slower and maintaining a safe distance to the car in front. As well as maintaining your composure and carefully accessing the road and your surroundings.

How to drive through floods and water?

When driving through floods and large amounts of built-up water on the road, the same thing applies. If you feel as though your car can get through the flood of water, proceed at a slower speed, between 10-20mph.

If the flood is too high we would recommend turning around and driving the way you came to either find an alternative route or drive home.

This is when it is important to have weather updates on the radio or to have checked the MET office before you set off for your journey.

If there is a weather warning, we would advise not driving out unless you have to and even then, proceed with caution.

How far back should I stay from the car in front?

The general rule of thumb is to stay 4 seconds behind the car in front of you, that way in the event you may need to brake all of a sudden, there is a safe stopping distance.

If on the motorway, staying back to chevrons apart is generally advised when driving at 70mph. The same would be advised when driving in the rain, even at a slower speed to allow for braking distances.

Another way would be to stay two car-lengths’ behind the car in front to allow for any sudden braking situations.

Be prepared for all weather situations

Lindleys offer car servicing, tyre-fitting and winter checks to make sure your car is ready to go in all weather conditions.

We will advise you if you need new tyres, a new battery or anything that may be wrong with your car that needs attention before driving in heavy rain conditions or any weather conditions.

Simply book your car service online today and we’ll assess your vehicle.

Alternatively, give us a call to arrange an appointment that works for you and pop into one of our branches.

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