Monday 5 December 2016

Driving in the rain: How to reduce the risk of an accident in miserable weather

Published 18/11/2015 | 02:30

You are guaranteed plenty of rain in Ireland.
You are guaranteed plenty of rain in Ireland.

Along with death and taxes, one thing you can be sure of is plenty of rain.

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But have you noticed how some drivers over-react in the wet and others carry on as if the sun was shining?

There is no doubt both grip and visibility are affected when it rains. But too many people disregard the obvious.

Ever been 'washed' by a truck, van car on a wet day when you are momentarily blinded by the volume and impact of a wave of water? That's so often because people are driving at 'dry-weather' speeds.

Here are a few simple steps to reduce the risk of an accident in such circumstances.

The first is obvious - and please do it regularly: check your wipers are in proper working condition. I suspect quite a percentage are not, or one of them is streaking the windscreen.

Check all your lights are working and that you are well lit up. Being seen is vital.

And don't use your fog lamps every time. It is illegal unless there is heavy fog or really bad visibility. They dazzle oncoming drivers.

Leave as much space and reaction time as possible between you and the car in front. Your car will travel much further when you brake in the wet than on a dry surface.

I tell people to leave four/five seconds to the car in front. Start counting when the vehicle ahead passes a static object such as a road sign. That way you can measure how much time you have to stop. It may mean impatient drivers behind you being too close. Don't be bullied. Let them pass or pull into a slower lane.

If your car should 'aquaplane' (when water builds up and affects your tyres' grip) your steering will feel light and unresponsive. Don't brake but slowly ease off the accelerator and slow down. Don't do anything sudden. The tyres should re-gain grip. Drive slowly and you'll be alright.

Irish Independent

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