The UK’s changing weather patterns have just as much of an impact on the way we drive as construction or other roadway distractions. In 2016, there were 326 fatalities on UK roads due to the adverse conditions - 213 of them occurred in the rainy weather.
What driving styles can best help keep you safe when the rain starts coming down? Whether you’re dealing with a light sprinkle or a heavy downpour, there are steps you can take to ensure that you don’t drown your engine or accidentally aquaplane.
Whether it’s securing a separate set of rain tyres or just altering the way you behave behind the wheel, you can use the following tips and tricks to ensure that you and your loved ones stay safe during the UK’s rainy season.
One of the easiest ways to preserve your safety on the road in the rain is to drive more slowly. Driving on wet pavement lessens the amount of traction your tyres can pick up. With that lessened traction comes the greater likelihood of an accident.
Additionally, try to avoid using cruise control in the rain. While the ease of it is tempting, using cruise control limits the amount of control you have over your car. You may find that you’re not able to make the minor adjustments you need to stay safe if you’re using it during a storm.
Avoid standing water
Standing water on a motorway threatens to do more than slow your drive. If you drive into a standing puddle, you can drown your engine or aquaplane. Not only that, but the splash you create will prevent other drivers from being able to readily see the road in front of them.
All in all, do what you can to safely avoid these larger puddles, and you’ll find that your rainy day drives are a little easier.
Follow the leader
Road safety is all about responding to the environment around you. This means interacting with the other cars you’re driving beside. When it rains, you can use the company around you to your advantage. Drive in the tracks of the car in front of you on the motorway, and you’ll find that your tyres are able to maintain their traction more effectively than they would if you were venturing on alone.
Additionally, you’ll want to show your fellow drivers an additional degree of respect when you’re all driving on the road in the rain. Wet roadways and damp brakes make it more difficult for you to stop while driving. This is especially the case if you’re travelling at a high rate of speed. When you keep more distance between your car and the cars around you, you’ll be actively taking steps to keep the motorway safer.
Watch your brakes
Speaking of damp brakes: your brakes may not work as well as they normally do if you get caught in the rain. Driving through standing water can wet your brakes to the point where they no longer function.
Likewise, braking while aquaplaning can make your situation significantly worse. If you do find yourself aquaplaning, keep your feet off the brakes and do not turn your car wheel. You’ll want your car to coast to a stop naturally to preserve your safety.
Keep an eye on weather patterns
Did you know that the UK’s motorways grow more dangerous when it rains after a long dry spell? As the road dries out, it will start to accumulate grease and run-off engine oil. When, at last, it rains again, those lubricants mix with running water. That combination results in a dangerous slide that could send you into a tailspin if you’re not driving carefully.
The best thing you can do is keep an eye on the weather. If it’s about to rain for the first time in a few weeks, why not delay your grocery run for the day?
A note on tyres
Note that most of the tricks and tips here mention things you can do to change your behaviour when driving in the rain. You can also invest in all-season tyres (or a set of winter tyres and summer tyres) that you can switch out as the weather changes.
You’ll also want to ensure that your car is equipped with properly inflated tyres so that your RPMs don’t fall out of sync and cause your car to drift.
The year it doesn’t rain in the UK is the year the world comes to an end. Until that day, do what you can to preserve your safety on wet roads. Be it through behavioural changes or an investment in rain tyres, you’ll find that your drives are a little more enjoyable for your efforts.