Travelling in storms, rain and strong wind

Driving in storms, rain and strong wind

Choices and planning ahead

  • Even moderate rain can reduce your ability to see and be seen. A good rule of thumb is ‘if it’s time for your wipers, it’s time to slow down’.
  • If heavy downpours are expected, avoid starting your journey until it clears.
  • If you can, choose main roads, where you are less likely to be exposed to fallen branches and debris and flooding.
  • Use dipped headlights if visibility is seriously reduced.
  • Gusts of wind can unsettle vehicles – grip your steering wheel firmly with both hands. This is particularly important when planning to overtake.
  • Keep an eye out for gaps between trees, buildings or bridges over a river or railway – these are some of the places you are more likely to be exposed to side winds. Ensure that you maintain enough room either side of your vehicle so you can account for it being blown sideways.
  • Roads will be more slippery than usual in wet weather – be sure to give yourself more time to react when approaching a hazard. Increase your following gap to at least four seconds from the moving traffic in front.
  • Keep your eyes peeled on the road at all times as spray from other vehicles can suddenly reduce your visibility. Remember it affects others too, so anticipate their actions and be prepared.

What to do when the road is flooded

  • If the road is flooded, turn around and find another route. The number one cause of death during flooding is driving through flood water, so the safest advice is turn around, don’t drown.
  • Although the water may seem shallow, just 12 inches (30cm) of moving water can float your car, potentially taking it to deeper water from which you may need rescuing.
  • Flood water also contains hidden hazards which can damage your car, and just an egg-cupful of water sucked into your car’s engine will lead to severe damage.
  • Never drive through flood water. Turn around.

Keep an eye out for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians

  • Remember to give vulnerable road users including cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians more room than usual. They are more likely to be blown around by side winds – always keep a safe distance.
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