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Driving in the Rain

Driving Tips

Driving in the rain

With heavy rain a year-round fixture in the UK, floods are unfortunately a fairly frequent occurrence. So it’s important to know how to approach a flooded road, not only to look after your own safety, but also to avoid damaging your vehicle.
The facts
  • It can take twice the distance to stop in wet weather, so double your following distance from the vehicle in front [1]
  • Tyre tread is for dispersing water – at 70mph, in torrential rain, your tyres may have to disperse three gallons of water every second - so the less tread on your tyres, the less control you’ll have [2]
  • Tyre pressure will also affect grip in the rain, so ensure that you adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations [2]
  • Aquaplaning can happen when driving over standing water and leaves the driver with little steering or braking control
  • Aquaplaning can be recognised by a lack of road noise but an increase in engine noise and lighter steering
  • Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) will be ineffective if the vehicle is aquaplaning
  • Your vehicle will not have the same cornering powers as when driving in the dry; make allowances by cornering a little slower
  • Rain, after a dry weather period, can result in particularly slippery roads; look for bubbles on the puddles and the tell-tale rainbow reflections of spilt diesel
The advice
  • Set the windscreen wiper speed to gain the best possible visibility ahead and behind
  • Set the heater blowers towards the side windows, because on wet days, the windows can steam up more easily
  • When driving in rain, even a light shower, the vehicle’s dipped beam headlights should be on
  • Do not use cruise control in rain because you will not be able to respond to aquaplaning
  • Slow down before driving over a patch of water, to reduce the risk of getting into an aquaplaning situation; don’t make any sudden steering movements but gently decelerate until tyre grip returns naturally
  • Try and anticipate where deeper water might lie e.g. in dips or near small bridges and adjust your speed accordingly
  • If you need to drive through standing water, slow right down; it is impossible to know how deep the water is or what hiding beneath it
  • Pedestrian and cyclists will not be enjoying getting wet and are likely to make hasty decisions to improve their progress, so take particular care around them
  • Other drivers may not make allowances for driving in the wet. Give yourself extra space and time to reduce the risk of others’ mistakes affecting you. Always have an escape route in mind
  • Do not use rear fog lights in rainy conditions; they create glare and prevent following drivers from seeing clearly
  • On rainy motorways, give larger vehicles a wide berth if it is safe to do so, to avoid the effects of large amounts of lateral spray. Set the wipers to high speed on approach
‚ÄčSources [1] TRL Report 2005 [2] Michelin 2008 

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