Tips and Advice: driving in wet conditions
20 September 2018
With summer now just a distant memory, it is time to think about autumn and winter. We might have the odd sunny day, but we should be better prepared for rain and wind in the next few months. Our guide to driving in wet conditions will give you some top tips for staying safe on the roads.
Check your tyres
Checking your car’s tyres is very important, especially in wet weather. Your tyres are the only part of your car in contact with the road. The condition and inflation of your tyres can make a huge difference in how it handles in the wet. See our tyre tread and inflation guides for more information on how to check.
Use your headlights and wipers
You should check that your headlights are clean. In wet weather the dirt from the road is mixed with the surface water. It is then lifted and sprayed by cars going through it. The resulting spray can leave a mucky deposit on your headlights making them less effective.
Windscreen wipers and screen wash are also important in this situation. If the wipers are leaving smears and streaks on your windscreen, you should get the wiper blades changed. Ensure that washer fluid levels are also topped up because they will help to clear any dirty deposits from the windscreen that the wipers alone can’t clear.
Check the weather and plan ahead
You should leave longer for your journey in bad conditions, especially on longer journeys. There may be increased traffic and you should be moving slower as you adapt to the conditions. So, you should carefully consider your route, don’t always trust a sat nav. Most importantly, don’t rush to get there quicker. Rushing could be the worst thing that you could do in bad driving conditions.
Avoid driving if possible.
If the journey can be put off, put it off until the worst of the weather has passed. If possible wait for the bad weather to pass completely. It may not be possible to put the journey off. If driving can’t be avoided, proceed with caution and adapt driving to the condition of the roads.
Consider braking distances
Braking distances are greatly increased in wet conditions. With car and tires in good conditions braking distances are doubled, the wetter it is the longer it may take to bring the car to a standstill. Be aware of this and ensure you’re thinking ahead when driving in the conditions.
What is aquaplaning and what to do if it happens
Aquaplaning is quite common in wet conditions with a lot of surface water. It is the technical name for water building up under the tyre when the car is in motion, so your car is effectively surfing on the water and not in contact with the road. The first you know about it will be when your steering feels light and unresponsive.
If you think you’re aquaplaning, braking is the worst thing you can do. You’ll almost certainly skid and that could result in losing control of the vehicle. Instead, take your foot off the accelerator and let the car gradually slow down until you regain control.
Don’t attempt to drive through a flood
The advice here is quite clear – don’t do it. You can never be sure how deep a flood is or how long it will take to subside. Find an alternative route, don’t attempt to go through it. You may end up getting stuck and needing to be rescued by the emergency services. Stay safe and be sensible.