Driving safely in wet weather
How summer rainfall leads to slippery roads
Sudden rain & stormy conditions have led to unexpected downpours in some regions this week and if you’ve experienced these whilst driving you’ll know just how treacherous and unnerving they can be. Whilst we can’t control the weather, we can ensure we’re prepared and in the best position to stay safe on the roads this summer.
The dangers of wet roads after a dry spell
When the weather has been warm and dry for an extended period of time, the everyday build up on the road surface accumulates. If there aren’t frequent showers to wash this build up away, substances such as oil, grease, rubber & tar form a thin layer on the road surface.
When the rain eventually comes this build up rises to the surface and causes the roads to become very slippery. Research has found that the risk of having an accident on a rainy day increases with the length of the dry spell preceding it. If there has been constant rain for a period of time then the danger due to wet road conditions falls.
How to stay safe on wet roads
Driving cautiously and carefully is the best way to ensure you stay safe when roads are slippery and vision is reduced. Make sure you slow down and keep a greater distance between you and the vehicle in front. Avoiding sharp braking and ensuring you use gentle manoeuvres will you help you avoid skidding and losing control on treacherous roads.
- Slow down
- Increase braking distance
- Avoid sharp braking
Check your road vision
Making sure you have a clear view of the road ahead is vital when it comes to heavy downpours when driving.
- Replace worn or broken wiper blades
- Clean your windscreen regularly
- Demist with AC in warm weather
Check your tyre tread
Tyre safety is crucial to staying safe on the roads throughout the year but especially so in wet summer weather. Many drivers tend to think of tyre safety more during the autumn & winter and may neglect to carry out tyre checks as regularly during the warmer months.
Having enough tyre tread depth is vital for ensuring you have grip when driving on wet roads. Tyre tread is designed to channel away surface road water, ensuring your vehicle stays in contact with the road. If your tread is very low the water cannot be channelled away and you’re at risk of aquaplaning and losing control of your vehicle
How to do the 20p tyre check
An easy way to see if your tyres have enough tread is to take the 20p test.
Simply place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit. If the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional.
When taking the test, remember to check at least three locations around each tyre. As the test is so quick and easy, stay safe by checking your tyres at least once a month.
Check your tyre pressure
Having under or over-inflated tyres increases your risk of aquaplaning. Your tyres being underinflated will affect road handling, making it harder to steer round corners and possibly increases the chances of losing control and having an accident. The lower the tyre pressure, the more likely you are to aquaplane at lower speeds.
The NHTSA published research on the effects of under-inflation and aquaplaning which found that:
- At 30 psi, hydroplaning could occur at 56.7 mph
- at 25 psi, hydroplaning could occur at 51.8 mph
- At 20 psi, hydroplaning could occur at 46.3 mph.
This clearly shows that low pressure has a direct effect on the risk of aquaplaning (sometimes known as hydroplaning) in wet weather.
Over inflated tyres are also hazardous to road safety. A tyre which has too much air pressure has less contact with the road surface and so will cause handling issues. When your tyres are overinflated, the pressure causes the tyre sidewall and tread to become harder which reduces traction and grip on the road
We would always encourage all drivers to check their tyre pressures at least once a month and before any long journey. It’s a quick, easy check to carry out yourself, but if you’re unsure or in a hurry we can carry out a free pressure check in any of our branches.