Summer is just about over, and now is the time to say goodbye to the summer life, to the warm water of the beach and pool, to basketball summer leagues, to the glorious yet irritating summer heat! It’s now time to say hello to the rainy days.
Driving in the rain can be really dangerous, especially during the night, as it’s one of the worst conditions you can drive into, not even to mention the incoming flood, the slippery roads, hydroplaning, and the restricted visibility.
Here are some tips and advice to help you drive safely and avoid accidents when driving in the rain.
Before you drive especially during heavy rain or a typhoon:
- Consider if you really need to go out and drive. Can you wait until it has stopped raining?
- Let a friend or relative know about where you plan to go, your routine, and your estimated travel time. If you can, bring a travel buddy with you.
- Plan your route in advance. Consider where you’re at and the routes you’re about to take. Are they not flooded?
- Be sure to fill up as air conditioner, lights and wipers, and possible heavy traffic will consume more fuel than normal driving conditions.
- Bring your mobile phone to use in case of emergencies. Also, bring an umbrella as you’ll have to leave the protective roof of your car at some point.
- Drive slower than you would at normal weather conditions, and don’t forget to leave enough space between you and the vehicle you are following. Many countries use the 2-second rule — count “one-thousand-and-one, two-thousand-and-two” between a point on the road that the car in your front passes until you pass the same point. It’s advisable to double this distance when driving on wet roads. That means using a 4-second rule as gap to the vehicle you are following. If you are driving a heavy vehicle you must increase this gap even further.
- Avoid using rear fog lights. They can make your brake lights less visible and even dazzle motorists trailing behind you.
- Keep the radio on and listen to news and updates regarding traffic conditions, floodings, road closures, and other road status and conditions.
- Drive slower to avoid hydroplaning. Driving too fast on wet road surfaces might cause your tires to lose direct contact with the road and travel on top of the water. This phenomenon is called hydroplaning and is also known as aquaplaning. This significantly reduces your traction and your steering wheel will feel very light. When this happens be as calm as you can and avoid abrupt motions. Don’t step on the brakes suddenly, let go of the accelerator, and steer gently and slightly to your desired direction until you regain traction and complete control of your wheel again.
- Be mindful of other road users as well. When you see pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists ahead, reduce your speed so you don’t spatter them especially on roads where pots of water are evident. After all, you would want to be treated the same.
- Turn on the air conditioner or the defroster (if you have one) when the windshield starts to fog. Driving in the rain will more likely make your windshield foggy due to the temperature change, this will severely restrict your visibility of the road. Keeping your aircon turned on will deal with this problem.
When driving through floods is inevitable:
- If you’re unsure about the depth of the flood then don’t even attempt to drive through it. Try to look for an alternative route. If there’s not another road to take other than the flooded one, try to drive on higher segments of the road.
- Ensure that you have a clear path ahead and through the flood before you set off so you won’t stop in the middle of the water as your engine will be damaged if water enters it via the muffler. Keep your revs up to avoid this by using a low gear. If driving a manual vehicle you can depress the clutch to keep the revs up without moving.
- Drive steady and slow and in a low gear (as mentioned above) and make sure that you don’t take your feet off of the accelerator while you’re still in the water as this will push off the water and prevent it from coming into your muffler.
- Never drive through waters with strong currents; you don’t want yourself and your car to get washed away by fast flowing water.
- Never start the engine when you’re in deep flood as it will cause damages to your engine. If your engine ceases while still trying to pass through the water, call for assistance to have your vehicle assessed first.
- Don’t forget to test your brakes once you’ve gone past the flood. Your brakes might provide less to very little braking power when wet, and so you should dry them immediately by lightly applying the brakes while continuing to drive. You only need to do this a few seconds until you feel the increase in braking pressure. The friction and heat from the brakes dries the discs or brake shoes quickly.