Top tips for driving in the rain

Stephen Wright, 2 years ago

3 min read

  • Advice
  • tips
Driving in the Rain

WhoCanFixMyCar offers some top tips for motorists to help keep them safe while driving in the rain

Guide Contents

Know your road stopping distances

Make sure your lights and indicators are working

Check your tyre pressure

The 20p test

Reduce your speed

Try not to slam on the brakes

Pull over if the rain gets too severe

Know your road stopping distances

The distance at which you should apply your brakes to bring the vehicle to a stop depends on various factors, such as the vehicle's speed, the road surface, tyre condition, and weather conditions.

The Highway Code in the UK states that drivers should allow at least a two-second gap between themselves and the vehicle in front on dry roads. The key is that enough space is left to be able to stop safely between yourself and the vehicle in front should it suddenly slow down or stop.

This gap should be at least doubled to four seconds on wet roads and ten times greater on icy roads. Remember, large vehicles and motorbikes need an even greater distance to stop again.

Road stopping distances in rain and snow are significantly longer than in dry conditions due to reduced tyre traction and decreased visibility and it’s important to know what these stopping distances are. The slippery road surface can reduce tyre grip, meaning the vehicle takes longer to slow down and the reduced visibility can increase perception distance.

Understanding stopping distances is crucial for several reasons:

  • Avoiding collisions: Knowing the stopping distance helps drivers maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead.

  • Reaction time: The stopping distance includes the time it takes for the driver to perceive a hazard, decide to apply the brakes, and then physically execute the braking action. The faster a vehicle is travelling, the longer the reaction time, and the greater the stopping distance will be.

  • Driving speed: Stopping distances are affected by the speed at which the vehicle is travelling. Higher speeds result in longer stopping distances.

  • Road conditions: Different road conditions, such as wet, icy, or slippery surfaces, affect the friction between the tyres and the road.

  • Pedestrian safety: Knowing the stopping distance is essential for drivers to anticipate and avoid accidents involving pedestrians.

  • Compliance with road laws: Many countries have laws and regulations that specify minimum safe following distances and speed limits to ensure road safety.

Make sure your lights and indicators are working

Visibility is key. So, make sure your brake lights, headlights and indicators are all working properly before you go anywhere. It only takes a few seconds, but those few seconds can make all the difference.

Next, check your windscreen wipers. Give them a spray to make sure they clean the windscreen properly. If you notice any streaking, we advise getting your wipers checked (or changed) as soon as possible.

Check your tyre pressure

Before any journey, whether that is in the wet or the dry, you should always check your tyre pressure. Under-inflated tyres can have a serious effect on your handling. They can also cause your car to behave unpredictably – especially when it comes to braking.

You will find the correct tyre pressure for both the front and rear tyres in your owner manual. If you are not sure where you have left your manual, then search for Tyre Safe, the tyre safety organisation. Their website will tell you everything you need to know in seconds.

Alternatively, check out our guide on car tyre pressure.

The 20p test

It's not just your tyre pressure you need to check. Your tyres play a vital role in ensuring you are always in control of your car - especially when cornering and braking. If your tread depth is insufficient, your tyres will not be able to grip the road properly, which is vital, especially when it's raining.

One of the most ingenious ways of checking your tyre tread is using a 20p coin. Before heading out on the road, place the 20p in the tread. If you can see the outer band on the coin face, then it means you do not have enough tread and we would recommend replacing your tyre(s) immediately to ensure you are road legal.

Click here to read our guide on the 20p tyre tread test.

Tyre test

Reduce your speed

Keep your foot off the accelerator when driving in the rain. While it may seem obvious, wet roads can be lethal and your car’s reaction times will be slower, so reduce your speed wherever possible to allow for greater stopping distances.

And it is not just us saying this. According to Highways England, almost 3,000 people are either killed or seriously injured every year in the UK when driving in the rain.

Try not to slam on the brakes

Slamming on the brakes too hard and too quickly in the wet can cause your tyres to lock and your car to skid. If you need to brake, then make sure to feather the brakes.

Watch out for standing water

Easier said than done when visibility is limited but driving through standing water can cause you to aqua plane. To avoid skidding across the surface of the road, drive around places where water has collected by changing lanes.

If you do find yourself skidding, ease off the accelerator, don’t brake, and allow the car to naturally slow until you gain control again of the steering. Only then should you put your foot back on the accelerator.

Pull over if the rain gets too severe

Driving in the rain is an everyday occurrence in the UK and something we all get used to. But if the rain is particularly heavy, with the potential to flood, pull over (if safe to do so) and wait until the worst of the rain has passed before starting your journey again.

If you have any concerns with regards to the handling of your car it's better to be safe rather than sorry. That's why we would recommend booking an appointment at your nearest garage and getting a professional mechanic to check over your vehicle. It will only take a few minutes but could make all the difference when you are out on the road in the wet (or the dry for that matter).

Mechanic checking tyre

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