How to drive safely during heavy rain

With bad weather forecast, here’s how to stay safe on the road.

Car driving in rain
Car driving in rain

The UK has been in the midst of some of the hottest weather in recent memory, with the Met Office issuing its first ever extreme heat warning earlier this week.

However, as we head into the weekend, some parts of the country have a new weather warning to worry about – thunderstorms.

Particularly focused on central and south east England, the Met Office has now warned that the hot weather could make way for thundery downpours.

This coincides with the first weekend of the summer holidays, with research suggesting there could be around 11 million leisure trips taken over the next few days.

If you’re heading away and encounter poor weather, here’s how to drive safely.

Keep your speed down

It’s a fairly obvious one, but something that’s always worth repeating. When the road is covered in water it reduces grip levels, which means braking distances are longer and cornering speeds are lower.

Slowing down gives you more time to think and react, leaving more margin to brake in time for a hazard.

Avoid spray

Driving in heavy rain can be a bit of a nightmare on the motorway, because cars lift the water off the road and create spray that reduces visibility.

Traffic in the rain

To avoid this, you should leave a bigger space between yourself and the car in front, which will improve visibility. You can also keep your distance from trucks and lorries, which create more spray than regular cars.

Turn your lights on

Speaking of visibility, you can help people around you see your car by turning on your lights.

This can also help you see if heavy clouds create a low light situation, but the reality is that turning your lights on improves your visibility to other drivers.

Air conditioning
Using your air conditioning system will stop windows misting up.

That being said, you should not turn your fog lights on. As the name suggests, you shouldn’t turn your fog lights on in rain. These are designed for very poor visibility in foggy conditions, and are annoyingly bright at other times, even when there’s a lot of spray.

Use your air conditioning

If you have air conditioning, it’s incredibly useful in wet weather. While it’s usually thought of as a way of keeping cool in the heat, its properties also mean that it stops your windows steaming up.

Avoid deep water

If you’re approaching a large puddle of water covering the road, don’t feel under pressure to drive through it. It’s impossible to know how deep the water is, and the last thing you want is to get stranded in the middle.

If you’re confident the water looks passable, keep your speed low but consistent, avoiding lifting off the throttle unless absolutely necessary. Once on the other side, give the car a moment for the water to drain away, and make sure you check your brakes in a safe place, as water can reduce their effectiveness for a short period.

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