Summer showers can be sudden and violent. Learn about separation, tyre grip and journey planning and get prepared for driving in downpours.
It’s blazing hot outside today and as summer has its last gasp, my thoughts naturally turn to an evening spent winding round country lanes in an open-top car. (I have not got an open-top car and I live in a city, but I can dream.)
Anyway, you have not arrived at this page to read about that kind of thing; you’ve come because you know that the Safe Driving for Life blog is always at the ready with useful facts and inside information.
That’s why I want to talk about rain. Yes, rain. ‘Why?’ I hear you ask. Didn’t your intro just celebrate the last gasp of summertime? Well, yes it did, that’s true. It’s also true that sudden and violent rain showers are a fact of summer life. Why else do you see people at festivals who only half an hour beforehand were raving to their favourite band, suddenly drenched and tobogganing in the mud?
Strategies for safer driving
The truth is, a really heavy shower can be a dangerous event for anyone driving on our roads. So, whether you’re about to set off in wet weather or you’re the victim of a sudden downpour, here’s some of our best advice.
Check the weather forecast before you leave. This is obvious but important – keep checking your weather app up until the time you set off. You’ll be able to find weather forecasts for your local area and your destination, as well as important weather warnings.
If it’s really bad, do not feel you have to leave. Always put your safety and the safety of other passengers over any other consideration.
If you choose to set off, remember that wet weather reduces your tyres’ grip on the road. To stay safe:
- Allow at least double the usual separation distance between your vehicle and the one in front.
- Keep your speed down. Windscreen wipers struggle to cope with very heavy rain, so your view of the road ahead will not be as good as it could be. Driving at a lower speed will give you more time to react to hazards that are not immediately visible through the rain.
- Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you.
Stop somewhere safe
If you’re caught unawares by really heavy rain, visibility is poor and you’re feeling anxious, pull over in a safe place (a roadside service area, for example) and take a break. While you’re waiting, do something different to help you relax. For example, you might buy a coffee and read a newspaper or see what’s happening on Facebook.
Stay calm and carry on
If the road’s busy and it’s going to take time before you can stop for a break, then try and focus your mind on your driving. The more you think about getting out of the rain, the more anxious you’re likely to feel. Remind yourself that you’ve driven in rain before and always arrived at your destination safely.
During your driving life, you’ll encounter many different situations. Some you’ll be familiar with, but even familiar things can be challenging – particularly if you’re returning to driving after a break or are struggling with your confidence at the wheel. If that sounds like you, then head over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and pick up a copy of The Official DVSA Guide to Better Driving. You’ll find lots of hints and tips to help you deal with different scenarios, and a whole host of strategies designed to reduce anxiety and boost confidence. Oh, and there’s plenty of stuff about wet weather, too!