Drivers Fact Sheets

Driving In The Wet

The good news is that modern technology in the form of more efficient windshield wipers, better windshield defoggers, and tyres with enhanced wet-traction capabilities have made wet driving safer. Nonetheless, there are several steps that you can take to improve the safety of your wet weather driving.

See And Be Seen

  1. The most important factor in safe wet driving is the ability to see and be seen (and this latter point is often forgotten). Being seen by other drivers is easy – simply turn on your low-beam headlights when it rains, even during the daytime. This simple action will allow other drivers to notice your car from the front (headlights) and the rear (taillights). In a really heavy downpour, when you either have stopped on the shoulder or are moving at less than 10 or 15 mph in the slow lane, you should consider turning on your four-way flashers to alert other drivers that you are there.
  1. Seeing out of your vehicle requires several important considerations. Make sure your wiper blades still have a sharp wiping edge and remove water from the windscreen without streaking. Clean your wiper blades by running a damp cloth along their edges from time to time to remove the build-up of oils and debris that the wipers have removed from the windscreen.
  1. At night, use your low-beam headlights to avoid excessive glare from the raindrops.
  1. Keep the windows clear by using the de-misting setting on your air conditioning. Use the heated rear windscreen if you can’t see out the back window. The inside of your windscreen must be clean and free from any oily films that may cause bad reflections or distortions as you drive. Cleaning the inside of the windscreen is particularly critical.
  1. If you use an automated car wash, the spray wax can sometimes build-up on the windows, causing the water to stick to the glass and making vision a problem. Clean your windows even after a car wash.
  1. Make sure that your headlights and taillights are working properly and that their lenses are clean.

Keep in Contact

Your tyres are the only contact your vehicle has with the road, and their condition is critical to wet-weather traction. If your tyres are worn and the tread depth is below two millimetres, you may experience hydroplaning, especially at higher speeds or in deep water. Tyres lose their ability to shed water as they wear so check your tyres regularly for tread depth and damage. Make sure your tyres are inflated to manufacturer’s specifications.

Safe Wet Weather Driving Tips

  1. How you drive can obviously make a significant impact on wet-weather safety. Be attentive to the situation around you, including what other drivers are doing and how they are reacting to conditions.
  1. Slow down early, before you encounter a problem, and be aware that you have less grip available from your tyres – for stopping, steering and accelerating. Remember: Even four-wheel-drive and anti-lock brakes can’t change the laws of physics.
  1. Keep your distance. Remember the ‘Two-Second Rule’ which increases to four seconds in the wet. Increasing the distance between you and the car in front gives you more time to think about what’s happening around you and react to it.
  1. Even a new tyre can begin to hydroplane on wet surfaces, so watch your speed. If the steering begins to feel light and the car is splashing through deep puddles, gently reduce your throttle to allow the car to slow to a more manageable speed. Don’t lift the throttle abruptly or hit the brakes, since this could unsettle the tyres’ grip on the wet surface.
  1. Never drive your car through deep water on a flooded road. You simply cannot tell how deep the water is. It doesn’t take much water to disable your vehicle or even float it off of the road surface. If you have any doubt about water depth, stop and go back the way you came. If you must drive through deep puddles, gently press the brake pedal one or two times afterwards to help dry the brakes before you need to use them to stop the car.
  1. Use the speeds on your windscreen wipers to help remove the amount of water that is hitting the windscreen. This sounds simple, but some people forget that at higher road speeds you need the highest wiper speed.
  1. Be aware of the spray coming from passing trucks and oncoming cars. It may blind you temporarily, so anticipate this by turning on (or increasing the speed of) your wipers and by looking at what’s happening to cars ahead of you.
  1. If it begins to rain very lightly after a long dry spell, the water will mix with the oils on the road to produce a very slippery surface. Treat these conditions with great caution since even new tyres won’t give much grip on this oil-and-water mixture.
  1. Minimise any distractions. Driving in heavy rain demands much more of your attention than driving on dry roads.
  1. If conditions become too intense, pull far off the road in a safe place to wait out the storm.
  1. Remember to use your judgement when wet weather driving. When visibility drops and the roads become flooded, only you can tell when it is time to pull off and take a break. Sure, it may take you a bit longer to reach your destination, but in the end, the few minutes spent to be safe will be worth it.

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