In some places, winter means a lot of snow and ice. These make driving challenging and dangerous if the weather gets out of hand. UK winters, however, are more often known for the wet weather, that’s why it’s important to know how to be prepared for driving in heavy rain and even through flooded roads.
Before you go out for a drive, the first question you have to ask yourself is "do I absolutely need to go?" If you’re still at home and the weather isn’t so great, you may reschedule the trip so you don’t have to go through the stresses of driving in heavy rain. But if you really have to go, here are some tips that will help you can get to your destination safely.
How to Drive in Heavy Rain
One of the key points to remember when you’re driving in heavy rain is to hang on to your patience. You’re going to need it, and you will have to focus your eyes and mind on driving. It’s also important to remember to give yourself enough time for your trip. If you’re in a hurry, you won’t be able to concentrate and the wet road will be even more dangerous if you’re driving fast. Let’s take a look at other dos and don’ts of driving in bad weather.
Turn on the Headlights
Visibility on the road is poor during heavy rain. You might not be able to see approaching vehicles or properly judge the distance between you and the other cars. And more importantly, you need other people to be able to see you. Always turn on your headlights when driving in the rain so that other road users can see you better.
Watch Your Speed
Driving in the rain is risky, especially at night. If you have to take the trip, make sure that you’re within the speed limit. If possible, go below the limit if it’s raining really hard. When you’re driving slowly, it helps a great deal in ensuring that you’ll reach your destination safely. It’s also a lot easier to stop if ever there’s an incident while you’re on the road. Remember it's always best to drive according to the road conditions and weather.
Leave Enough Room
Tailgating is never good but especially important when it’s raining. With so much water on the road, stopping can be more difficult. Aquaplaning is a real risk if you hit a patch of standing water, and if the car in front does this, you need enough time to avoid them and come to a safe stop. There’s also a possibility that your car will slide and skid if you try to stop quickly. So always make sure that there’s enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you while driving in heavy rain and that will help you avoid an accident.
Don’t Use Your Hazards
In bad weather like heavy rains, visibility is reduced drastically. Many drivers think that turning their hazard lights on is a good idea so that they can be seen easily by other road users. However, doing this is actually extremely dangerous. You should only ever use your hazard lights if your car is not moving otherwise it could confuse other drivers and road users.
Pull Over and Wait
If you don’t feel safe continuing your trip because the weather condition has become worse, you can always pull over and wait for the rain to pass. Find the next available restaurant, petrol station, or parking area and wait there until things improve. It's not recommended to pull over onto the hard shoulder but if you ever really have to do that, make sure to turn on your hazard lights and get out of your car.
Driving on Flooded Roads
If it’s been raining for some time, it’s possible that some of the roads will be flooded, especially in low lying areas or roads that cross or follow rivers. Sometimes you’ll know if flooding is common on a particular road if there are depth markers to indicate how deep the water is already. As a general rule, if you’re not certain about the depth of the flooded road, it’s best not to proceed. Instead, find another route so you can reach your destination safely.
Miscalculating the flood’s depth and flow is extremely dangerous because you could get stuck there in the middle of the road. And people who have misjudged this have sometimes been swept away even by seemingly shallow water. Not only is it is unsafe for you, but it could also damage your vehicle. Water can easily find its way into the car’s engine bay and can even get into the air intake and become ingested by the engine. When this happens, the pistons will not be able to compress the water that got in, causing engine failure.
Let’s say there’s no other way but through a flooded road. What you can do in this situation is to get in the middle of the road because that’s the most shallow area. Roads in the UK are crowned, meaning the middle is the highest part. The sides are lower so that rainwater can drain off. When you’ve manoeuvred your way to the middle, proceed at low speed and maintain it without stopping until you get through the flooded road.
In the event that your vehicle becomes stuck in a flooded road, do not attempt to restart it. What you can do is to allow the vehicle to dry out and then call a professional to inspect it. You want to avoid getting a huge repair bill. Keep in mind that if the cost of repairing the car becomes too high, your vehicle might be written off by the insurance company.
If you can, avoid driving in heavy rain so you won’t risk getting into an accident or getting stuck in a flooded road. Wait for the weather to get better before heading to your destination. It’s much better to reschedule appointments than find yourself in a dangerous situation.