How to drive safely in the rain - an expert’s 5 top tips

Driving in the rain is no unusual task for us Brits.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 10:38 am
Updated Thursday, 15th July 2021, 4:10 pm

Here a motoring expert shares their tips for how to stay safe on the roads during the rain and storms.

Keith Hawes, director of Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, said: “As the rain continues and the weather worsens, the Met Office is likely to issue weather warnings. Our main piece of advice is to keep an eye on the weather and avoid travelling during spates of heavy rain and storm if possible. If you have to drive, allow more time for your journey. This way, if the road starts to become hazardous and you can slow down or stop. If you need to stop you can then safely wait out the bad patch and continue when the storm has passed.

Driving slowly is key. The faster you drive in wet weather, the more your tyres will struggle to scatter the water they come into contact with. So slow down, and stay safe.

Us Brits are no stranger to the rain. Picture by Shutterstock

We recommend you always give the Met Office Weather Warning site, and the local weather, a quick check before you travel to make sure you know what to expect on your journey. It pays to be prepared, especially during a British ‘summer’.”

Top five tips

#1 Avoid puddles - you could be at risk of aquaplaning. Avoid driving through water if possible and if you do try to avoid a puddle make sure you do it safely. Check your blind spot and for oncoming traffic first. Whatever you do, do not swerve out. If you can’t avoid a large puddle make sure you keep both hands on the wheel and slow down to maintain control of the car.

#2 Drive slowly and remain calm. Winds and rain can be so persistent they can cause your car to drift or veer with no warning. Driving slowly will increase your ability to control your vehicle and also increase the distance between you and the driver in front if you do veer or lose visibility. Always reduce your speed slowly and avoid harsh braking or sharp steering. When braking is essential, keep it smooth and gentle - being aware and anticipating the road ahead is the key.

#3 Check your lights and keep them on. Check your lights are all in working order before you head off. You should also make sure you have the appropriate light settings on when you’re driving so that other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists can see you more clearly. As soon as visibility drops and the roads darken, you should be switching your headlights on. However, you should only use your main beam if visibility is really poor, otherwise you could blind other drivers.

#4 Have a look at potential rest points before you set off. If you’re going on a longer journey or using the motorway, have a look at rest stops you could pull in at before you set off. If you haven’t planned your journey you should be keeping an eye on the service station signs so you know how long you’ll be travelling before you get another chance to stop. This should help you adapt your journey if the weather worsens.

#5 If your car gets stuck in a flood - don’t try to drive. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding and you’re unable to move your vehicle, don’t try to start it if your car is fully or partially submerged. Drain the water if you can and allow the vehicle to dry out as much as possible.

The expert’s advice on what to do if you aquaplane whilst driving and how to avoid it

What is aqua/hydroplaning? - Aquaplaning, or hydroplaning, is when your vehicle’s tyres skid or slide across a wet surface resulting in a loss of control, steering and braking. Your tyre effectively loses traction with the road beneath and the film of water you’re travelling over creates a slippery surface. Aquaplaning is especially prevalent during the first 10 minutes of light rain*.

How can I avoid it? - To avoid aquaplaning keep your tyres properly inflated, drive in a lower gear and avoid hard braking or any sharp or quick turns. You should also avoid standing water and if on a main road or motorway avoid driving in the outer lanes where water may accumulate.

What do I do if it happens? - If it happens, stay calm. This sounds simple but it’s key in regaining control of your vehicle. If you start to skid or lose control, release the brakes and turn smoothly into the slide (i.e. if the rear is skidding right, gently steer right).