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07 October 2020
SLIPPERY WHEN WET: How to stay safe while driving in the rain

Does the thought of driving in the rain strike fear in you? Here are some tips to drive with confidence and safety in wet weather.

As we close in on the end of the year, one of the things we can all look forward to (or not, depending on your outlook in life) apart from the holiday season and Christmas shopping, are the Northeast monsoon rains. Chilly sweater weather might bring some appropriateness to what typically comes to mind when one thinks of Christmas cheer, but unfortunately it also brings another hazard commonly associated with wintry conditions: slippery roads.

You might notice that almost every time a rain storm happens, there are bound to be accidents on the expressways. With a few simple preparation tips, you don’t have to be part of this statistic.

Preventative maintenance

As with nearly everything in life, it doesn’t hurt to stay prepared. Which is why the first step to driving in the rain driving is to properly maintain your car

Tyres are you most important ally in wet weather driving – they’re the only things keeping your car on the road and away from the guardrail or longkang. Make sure there is sufficient tread and that there is no uneven or abnormal wear anywhere on the tyre.

If your tyres look like the one in the middle, prepare for a very wild ride. (Note how little tread it has compared to the one above it)

Same goes for the wipers, give the blades a wipe to clean them every now and then so they don’t leave streaks across your windscreen, and replace them every couple years. Between the raindrops falling from above and other vehicles kicking up spray from below, visibility is very much reduced in rainy weather, so you’d want as much help as possible keeping your vision clear.

Additionally, consider applying a water repellent coating such as Rain-X on your windscreen and wing mirrors, and for hatchbacks, SUVs and MPVs, the rear windscreen as well. It’s so effective that on the highway, you can drive without the wipers on and the water will just roll off the glass itself! Not that we’d recommend it, of course…

Just one thing to note about Rain-X however; as the coating wears down, it’s been known to cause juddering of the wiper blades across the glass in some cases, although it’s more just an issue about the noise it makes rather than its effectiveness. The AutoApp team is split on this, as some have never experienced such juddering in their cars, so your mileage may vary.

Use Common Sense

Though not the be-all-end-all solution, the application of common sense is a universal help to driving in the rain. 

Reduced visibility in wet weather applies to everyone, so in addition to ensuring your own vision isn’t obscured, you want to try and make yourself as visible as possible. This is why you should turn your lights on once the heavens open, as those four spots of illumination front and rear help make your car much more prominent to other motorists, especially through spray.

Headlights increase visibility in the rain.
Using headlights when it rains is more about letting others see you

What you shouldn’t do however, is turn on your hazard lights. Some people have the misguided belief that blinking hazards lights are even more visible, and though that’s technically true, it also means that other drivers won’t be able to tell if there’s a genuine problem that they need to stop for or not.

Do no use the hazard lights while driving in the rain.

Finally, the slippery conditions mean that you should definitely also reduce your speed, keep a greater distance from other vehicles, and avoid making sudden steering or pedal inputs. Not only is there reduced friction and therefore grip which will increase your braking distances, but tyres can also only displace a finite amount of water before the rubber loses contact with the asphalt. Driving too fast into standing water is a guaranteed recipe for aquaplaning, which brings us to the next point:

Pro tips on dealing with aquaplaning

Aquaplaning or hydroplaning is the phenomenon of more water building up beneath your wheels than the tyre treads are able to displace, causing the whole tyre to ‘surf’ on a layer of water. It is one of the most dangerous situations any driver could find themselves in. One of the primary aims of driving in the rain is to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Aquaplaning explained

Here’s a pro-tip they don’t teach you in driving school:

  • Follow in the tyre tracks of the vehicle in front of you. 
    These tracks appear as a result of water being displaced by its tyres, temporarily leaving a drier groove for your own car to handle before the surface gets covered up again.
Following the grooves of the vehicle in front. Wet weather driving.
Can you see the tracks made by the vehicle in front?

If aquaplaning does happen though, especially due to driving into a deep puddle, the best way to handle the situation is by doing nothing. No, we haven’t lost our marbles; the goal is simply to not make any movements that might unsettle the car. Just maintain a steady throttle or gradually lift off, all the while gripping the steering wheel and keeping it straight. Any sudden input, such as hard braking or steering, will unbalance the car and send you skidding into the guardrail or another car.

Sometimes, big puddles are unavoidable. Just keep calm and don’t make sudden movements

AutoApp can prepare your car for the year-end monsoon with our wet-weather packages. Download the app here or in case of any emergency, contact our hotline at 91 028 028 and we’ll be happy to advise accordingly.