Top tips for driving in the rain and floods

A rainy car window
It's positively tipping it down, so drive carefully y'all
"A suddenly very wet road surface increases the chances of slipping when braking or steering, which is a problem not just for motorists, but cyclists and motorcyclists too" Peter Rodger, Institute of Advanced Motorists
  • | by Kristian Dando

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s been raining a bit. And it looks likes there's a lot more on the way, too, which means potentially bad news for drivers.

“A suddenly very wet road surface increases the chances of slipping when braking or steering, which is a problem not just for motorists, but cyclists and motorcyclists too,” says the Institute of Advanced Motorist’s chief examiner and advanced driver extraordinaire, Peter Roger.

So, to stay as safe as possible in wet conditions read on and take heed...

HANDY HINTS FOR DRIVING IN HEAVY RAIN

  • Before you set off, set your heater controls – rain makes the windows mist up in seconds. You don’t want to be fiddling with controls when you should be concentrating on the road.
  • Slow down. In the rain your stopping distance should be at least doubled.
  • Giving yourself more space helps you to avoid spray, especially when following a large vehicle.
  • Keep your eyes on the road ahead and plan your driving so that you can brake, accelerate and steer smoothly. Harsh manoeuvres will unbalance the car
  • If you have cruise control, avoid using it on wet roads – it may create problems if you start to aquaplane.
  • See and be seen. Put your lights on – as a rule of thumb, whenever you need to use your wipers you should also turn your headlights on, and before overtaking put your wipers on their fastest setting.
  • Making sure your car is properly maintained will make a difference too. Check your wipers regularly, that your tyres are properly inflated and have enough tread, and that all of your lights work and are clean. By law, you must keep the windscreen washer filled, but remember, to keep your windows clean, you must make sure that the inside is clean as well

TOP TIPS FOR DRIVING IN FLOODS

  • In cases of severe flooding, you should think twice about making the journey at all.
  • Leave time and space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians.
  • Drive slowly and keep going once you have started – make sure you have a clear run. In a manual car, keep the revs high by "slipping the clutch" (which means driving with the clutch not fully engaged) all the time you are in the water.
  • If you can’t see where you are going to come out of the water, such as when approaching flooding on a bend, think twice about starting to drive into it.
  • In deep water, never take your foot off the accelerator as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe.
  • Once you're out of the water, dry the brakes before you need them. The best way is to lightly apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds, after checking nothing is following you too closely.