Driving in wet weather can be very challenging even for the experienced drivers. Many road accidents are caused by people who fail to adjust their driving style to suit the weather conditions. In heavy rain visibilty can vary from one moment to the next, and the reduced grip on wet road surface can increase stopping distances to 2 or three times those on a dry road.
What is 'Aquaplaning' or 'Hydroplaning'?
Even with the widespread inclusion of ABS (Anti-lock Braking Systems) on many 'budget' level production cars these days, there are still many reasons why drivers should take care to both reduce their speeds and allow more distance between their car and the car in front on a wet road surface.
If a car hits a long patch of surface water it can 'aquaplane' or 'hydroplane'. This is a situation where the wheels actually lose contact with the road surface because the tyres are unable to displace the surface water quickly enough to maintain grip. In this situation even ABS brakes will be of little use as the wheels are not in contact with road. This sudden loss of control can have disastrous results if it occurs at speed for any length of time.
Generally a driver will 'feel' the loss of traction when it occurs, but they should avoid either steering or braking suddenly if it does as this may cause a skid. Traction should return at some point, and when it does - slow down, otherwise it may happen again.
Your chances of aquaplaning will be much reduced if you ensure your tyres are in good condition and you avoid driving at speed in heavy rain.
Grip on wet roads
The amount of grip you have on a wet road is highly dependant on the condition of your tyres. At 60mph on normal tarmac in a moderate rain shower, each one of your tyres will have to displace about a gallon of water every second in order to maintain contact with the road. If your tyres are worn their ability to do this efficiently will be impaired.
Don't rely on your ABS to get you out of trouble if you break suddenly in the wet - slow down.
Visibility can be a major issue in heavy rain. Make sure that your wiper blades are no more than 2 years old, as worn blades will not clear your windscreen effectively, particularly in heavy showers.
General advice for wet weather driving
Slow down! Stopping distances can be more than tripled on wet roads, don't rely on safety features like ABS to get you out of trouble
Keep your distance from the vehicle in front. You will need to double or triple your normal safe driving distance on wet roads
Watch out for spray from large vehicles in front or to the side. So again, keep well back
Replace old or worn wiper blades. Old or worn blades are much less efficient at removing water, and will not be able to cope in extremely heavy showers
Switch on your lights. This will allow other drivers to see you more easily in the rain
Stay alert when driving in the wet and look out for any brake lights coming on in front of you
Try not to apply your brakes too heavily. If you are driving at a sensible speed and distance from the vehicle in front, this should never be necessary
If you see a large puddle ahead of you brake well in advance of it, not as you go through it
Be extra careful when driving in the wet at night. The speeds of other vehicles can be more difficult to judge when their lights are refracted by heavy rain
Avoid driving through water running across a road, you can never be sure
exactly how deep it may be
Try to safely avoid splashing pedestrians. You would not like someone doing it to you!
Avoid going out completely in very bad weather if you can
If you have been involved in an accident that was not your fault, we can help you get your vehicle repaired, organise a hire care for you, and even make an injury compensation claim on your behalf.
Car Call UK and our partners are specialists in managing all aspects of a road accident claim, and because we and our partners recover our costs from the at-fault drivers insurance company.
Call us now on 02392 484 244 for free help and advice from one of our experienced claims advisors.