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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.

In the closing months of the year, the seasonal North-East monsoon rains will be as much a part of our lives as Christmas or the New Year. Chilly, sweater weather might bring some appropriateness to the occasion, but the ‘wintry’ conditions can also mean slippery roads and compromised visibility.

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 year or when the stop being effective which could be sooner. Between raindrops and spray from other vehicles, visibility is very much reduced in rainy weather. So keep your vision clear as possible.

Additionally, consider applying a water repellent coating like Rain-X. Not only your windscreen but also your wing mirrors, and for hatchbacks, SUVs and MPVs, the rear windscreen as well. It is so effective, that you can find lots of YouTube videos of folks without the wipers on and the water just rolls off the glass – not that we recommend it.

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 it before 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. 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 front and rear spots of illumination help make your car much more prominent to other motorists, especially through the 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. Although 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. Wet roads reduce friction and therefore grip. This also increases braking distances. 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.

(pic of https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/hydroplane-car-wheel-abs-anti-lock-1100602490)

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?

Sometimes, driving into a puddle can’t be avoided and this is water aquaplaning is unavoidable. Or a vehicle from the opposite side splashes a huge wave that completely blocks your view. The best way to handle this situation is to literally do nothing. No, we haven’t lost our marbles; the goal is to not make any sudden movements that might unsettle the car. Gradually lift off the accelerator pedal, all the while gripping the steering wheel firmly and keeping it straight. Any sudden input, such as hard braking or jerking the steering wheel will unbalance the car that can cause a loss of control.

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.