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Courtney of Aviva
We’re all used to the odd shower, but when it’s raining cats and dogs, driving may become significantly more difficult. Follow these tips to help you drive safely in adverse weather conditions.
Driving in heavy rain
- Slow down – When roads are wet, stopping a vehicle takes longer than normal. Reduce your speed and leave a decent amount of space between you and the vehicle in front
- As most cars tend to be quite close to the ground, if you were to hit standing water it may feel like hitting a stationary object. This could easily lead to you losing control over the vehicle
- Reducing your speed will also reduce the likelihood of water entering the engine and consequently cutting it out including a bow-wave in front of your own car – this can push the water up and flood your engine.
- Once you start driving through the water, keep going but only if you can see what is on the other side. Do not take your foot off the accelerator as water may get into your exhaust.
- Aquaplaning occurs when there is a layer of water between the wheels and the road. This will lead to a loss of traction and consequently render the steering wheel somewhat useless. If this occurs don’t break, take your foot off the accelerator and wait for the car to slow down. This will rid the wheel of water and traction will return
- Turning off cruise control when driving in very wet or slippery conditions is highly recommended, as it can significantly increase the dangerous effects of aquaplaning.
- Know where the vehicles air intake is located – on many cars the air intake is low down at the front of the car and it can take just a cupful of water in the combustion chamber to destroy an engine. Driving at speed through water, even if the intake’s above the water level, could cause water to be ingested.
Driving in flood conditions
As a general rule of thumb, ensure you don’t drive through water that is deeper than half the diameter of the wheels. Bear in mind that it only takes a few inches of water to damage most vehicles.
- Listen to weather forecasts before setting off on a journey.
- If you see power lines near surface water, avoid these areas
- Standing water may be hiding deeper potholes or open drains. Steer well clear of these
- When driving through a flooded road, attempt to drive in the middle of the road as the surface tends to be higher here. Of course only do this if it is safe
- Don’t change gear if your vehicle is submerged as this may result in water being sucked into the engine
- Avoid driving through flooded areas when there are other vehicles travelling in the opposite direction.
Wait for the oncoming vehicle to pass then proceed
- Don’t enter water if you don’t know how deep it is. If you do enter water, do so slowly and keep a steady, even throttle
- When entering water that reaches the level of your wheel rims, be sure to test your breaks once you’re out of the water and when it is safe to do so
- Use your hazard lights to let other drivers know if your engine has stalled while you’re in water
- Turning on the ignition when your car has been flooded and water has entered the passenger compartment can cause electrical short circuits and the airbags to deploy. When unsure, take the vehicle to get checked by a professional
- In the occurrence of you being inside a vehicle that is just about to be submerged, abandon the vehicle immediately and move to higher ground to stay safe. Look out for strong currents and debris when leaving the vehicle
- Stay well clear of moving water – all it takes is 12 inches or 30 centimetres of water for a car to start floating. Two feet (60 centre metres) of water could carry away your car
- When you find yourself behind goods vehicles, be extremely careful. These vehicles generate spray that reduces visibility. Good practice is to hold back until you can see their mirrors
- When you start driving a vehicle that has been parked in shallow water, do so with extreme care. Ensure you have it looked at as soon as possible
- Try to avoid driving if flooding occurs, but if needs must pay special attention
A little attention and care will keep you safe while driving in adverse weather conditions.