Safety Tips For Driving In Wet Weather
As we enter winter, the fresh rain acts as a good reminder that the changing conditions require us to slightly adjust some of our behaviours behind the wheel. Especially in Western Australia, we have such long periods of dry, warm weather that we can easily forget that driving in wet conditions is an entirely different experience. And if we are to keep ourselves and other road users safe, we need to take this into account by slightly modifying the way we drive, as we’re all a bit more prone to accidents when a heavy downpour comes along and makes road surfaces a bit slippery.
There are a number of things to look out for when wet weather driving. Most of us have a basic understanding that such conditions require a bit more caution on the road than in dry weather, but it’s good to know exactly what the hazards are and how best to avoid them. So, roll your windows up and let’s have a look at some of these hazards and how best to avoid them.
1. Greasy roads
Because we enjoy dry, warm weather throughout much of the year in this part of the world, our roads tend to build up a layer of grease and oil. This is because we don’t get much rain outside of winter to wash it away from time to time. Instead, we get a build up of various engine and other fluids that form a layer on top of the road that gets extremely slippery when it does eventually get wet from rain.
2. Reduced visibility
Heavy rain will significantly reduce your visibility on the road. This means your ability to negotiate other road users as well as hazards and obstacles becomes impaired. You’ll also notice that your windscreen may tend to fog up when driving in wet weather. Not only does this encumber your vision, it also creates a distraction from driving as you try to remedy the foggy buildup with the sleeve of your jumper.
3. Longer braking distance
Wet road conditions will significantly increase your car’s stopping distance. The tread on a car tyre is designed to direct water away from the rubber surface, but there is only so much it can do. Deeper tread means it can redistribute more water, however, even the best tyres in the best condition will still experience loss of performance on wet roads. This ultimately results in an increase in the distance that is required to bring your car to a stop.
It may seem like fun to go charging into a puddle to get a big splash of water over the curb, but it’s actually quite dangerous. Any puddle is a potential hazard, but unfortunately there is no way of determining in advance how deep they are. If you’ve ever driven through a big puddle you’ll have noticed how the increase in resistance pulls your car towards that side. Without knowing the depth of the puddle, you have no idea how much force to apply to the steering wheel to keep the car straight rather than lurching off the road.
When a layer of water builds between the surface of the car’s tyres and the road, this is known as aquaplaning. Without that direct contact between tyre surface and road, the car won’t respond to your control inputs and it, therefore, becomes a major hazard for yourself and other road users.
Wet Weather Driving Tips
We’ve looked at some of the hazards, so how do we best avoid them?
1. Slow down and exercise a little caution
You simply can’t perform the same manoeuvres on wet roads as you can on dry roads. At least not at the same speed, so you’re going to have to drive a little slower around corners, and allow a little more time to come to a stop.
On the off chance you find yourself aquaplaning, the best thing you can do is back off the throttle and not make any sudden turns. Braking suddenly and/or turning sharply will cause you to go into a spin which can be incredibly dangerous.
Always slow down when approaching a puddle, don’t swerve sharply around them, and if you cant drive around it, proceed slowly through it.
2. Leave more space between yourself and the car in front
A combination of poor visibility and increased stopping distance will require that you leave a bit more space between yourself and other motorists. If there is an incident ahead, reduced visibility will cause a delay in recognising the danger. Compounded by your increased braking distance, you may struggle to stop in time to avoid getting in an accident. The more space you leave in front, the better you can mitigate these risk factors.
3. Maintain your vehicle
Modern cars are loaded with safety features that do a great job of helping you to avoid collisions. These often come in the form of driver assistance features like Electronic Brake Force Distribution. So what is Electronic Brake Force Distribution? It is an electronic driver assist feature that uses input data to cleverly distribute brake force according to each wheel’s grip, meaning the car can maximise its stopping capability under heavy brake load, thus minimising stopping distance.
We can’t soley rely on the car’s features to keep us safe, though, so it’s important that we take our own measures to ensure our safety on the road—primarily by keeping an eye on the tyres. Tyre pressures and tread depth are critical in keeping your car firmly planted on the road, so ensuring they are in good condition is one of the best things you can do during the wet months. It’s also important to remember that servicing is your best bet for keeping your car in safe and functioning condition. If you’re a Mazda owner, it’s worth scheduling regular services with a Mazda service centre in Perth.
Take care on the roads and use these handy wet weather driving tips to help avoid any dangerous situations. Meanwhile, if your car is in need of a service—especially going into the wet season—there’s no better time to book into your nearest Perth Mazda dealership for a service that will keep your car as safe as possible in these challenging conditions.