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Stay Safe on Wet Roads; Esssential Tips for Drivers

The best way to stay safe on the roads when it is wet is to be somewhere warm and dry well away from your car.  As nice as that sounds, unfortunately this isn’t always a practical solution! With heavy rainfalls and sudden downpours common in many parts of the country, it's crucial for motorists to be prepared and equipped with the knowledge to stay safe on wet roads. In this blog post, we'll explore some essential tips for staying safe while driving in wet conditions regardless if you are doing long haul highway driving or making a trip to the shops and back.

Slow Down and Increase Following Distance

When roads are wet, it takes longer for vehicles to come to a stop due to reduced traction. As such, it's essential to reduce your speed and increase the following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This gives you more time to react to sudden stops or obstacles on the road, reducing the risk of collisions.

Maintain Proper Tyre Tread and Pressure

Adequate tyre tread is crucial for maintaining traction on wet roads. Before embarking on a journey, ensure that your tyres have sufficient tread depth and are properly inflated. The legal minimum tread depth in Australia is 1.5 millimeters, but for optimal safety, consider replacing your tyres if the tread depth is approaching this limit.

Avoid Sudden Movements

Sudden movements, such as sharp turns or abrupt braking, can cause loss of control on wet roads. Instead, drive smoothly and anticipate your actions well in advance. Gradually apply the brakes when slowing down and steer gently to maintain control of your vehicle.

Use Your Lights and Wipers

Visibility is often reduced during heavy rainfall, making it essential to use your vehicle's lights and wipers effectively. Turn on your headlights to improve visibility for yourself and other drivers, and ensure that your wipers are in good condition to keep your windshield clear of rainwater. Rain can also cause your windscreen to fog up quickly. Use your demisters and the air conditioner to keep your windows clear.  Good quality windscreen wipers are a must.  Make sure you replace your wipers at least once a year to ensure they are in peak condition when you need them.   

Beware of Aquaplaning and Skidding

Aquaplaning, also known as hydroplaning, can occur when a layer of water builds up between your tyres and the road surface, causing loss of traction. To reduce the risk of aquaplaning, avoid driving through large puddles or standing water, and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead, where water may be displaced.

If you happen to find yourself in a skid, try not to panic and stamp on the brakes.  Just gently ease your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the car to go. 

Stay Informed and Plan Ahead

Before setting out on a journey, check weather forecasts and road conditions to anticipate potential hazards. If heavy rainfall is expected, consider delaying your trip or choosing alternative routes with less traffic or better drainage. It is better to be a few minutes late than dealing with the inconvenient aftermath of an accident.  Slow down and leave even more distance between you and the vehicle in front, even more so if this is a truck or a bus.  

Pull Over

If the rain gets that bad that you feel it is unsafe to continue, pull over until it has eased.  Make sure that you are easy to see and well away from the road.  Put your hazard lights on to keep you visible to other drivers.

Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions

Driving in wet conditions requires heightened concentration and focus. Minimise distractions inside your vehicle, such as using mobile phones or adjusting music, to ensure that your attention remains on the road at all times.

Conclusion

Finally, make sure your car is safely maintained.  A regular service can pick up mechanical issues that might compound the safety problems that comes with driving in the rain.

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