Kiran Devgun from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) shares her advice with motorists travelling in the heavy rain. With more showers on their way road surfaces are expected to get extremely slippery and dangerous. Here are her top tips on how both riders and drivers can make their journey as safe as possible.
The planning stage
It’s important to think about whether you need to travel at all, especially if the heavy rain has not subsided. If your journey is essential, make sure you plan ahead to reduce the likelihood of a breakdown or accident occurring. Keep up-to-date with your local weather to see if any planned road closures or severe weather forecasts are in place – this should help you make an informed decision. These days the best information is often on official Twitter feeds, but never check for these updates on your smartphone whilst driving.
The final checks
Always check your motorbike or car is well-prepared in advance. Drivers should double-check their windscreen wiper blades are working properly, while both riders and drivers should check their vehicles tyre pressure and tread depth to avoid skidding on wet surfaces.
The ideal route
Once your vehicle is well-prepared you should assess which route is safe to take. If you know of any particular roads which are prone to flooding you should avoid these hazardous areas and take the longer yet safer route.
The right light
Drivers should switch on their dipped headlights so that other motorists can see them easily in the heavy rain. However, they should avoid switching on their rear fog lights, unless visibility is severely reduced, as these can end up dazzling drivers behind them.
Motorcyclists should also switch on their headlights and ride with the tail lamp on when visibility is poor. Keeping the tail lamp on in wet weather will help other motorists see your motorbike.
The visibility problem
Drivers should use the internal air conditioning to clear away condensation on the windscreen that is stopping them from seeing clearly. While riders should use an anti-fog solution or Rain-X to clear away condensation from helmet visors. It is also advised that riders wear reflective gear to help other road users see them clearly.
The right speed
Make sure you reduce your speed in the rain to increase your stopping distance, leaving enough space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Travelling at a reduced speed will also help you pass through large puddles and potholes smoothly, without spraying other motorists and pedestrians or risking aquaplaning.
Motorcyclists may feel their tyres begin to skid when riding too fast. In such cases, riders should avoid braking sharply and simply ease off the accelerator. As you begin to ease off the accelerator your speed should begin to reduce, giving you better control.
Torrential downpours may lead to breakdowns, so it’s important you keep with you a fully-charged mobile phone and the telephone number of your breakdown service provider. Drivers should not leave their bonnet up as they wait for help as soaking the engine may only make things worse, while riders should make sure they avoid trying to fix any loose connections themselves and wait for help.