It is the time of year with lots of rainfall and unfortunately with rain comes , automobile accidents. According to the Nigeria Automotive Council (NAC) one quarter of all road accidents (or 1.5 million per year) are weather-related, with the majority occurring on wet pavement and/or in the rain.
Wet driving conditions can be hazardous for a number of reasons. Roads that are wet from the rain build up a film of water and grease that make it more difficult for tires to gain traction. Additionally, driver visibility decreases greatly in rainy conditions.
While most of us cannot avoid driving in the rain altogether, we can take extra precautions to be vigilant and practice the best road safety when we do.
Below is a selection of expert tips for avoiding accidents while driving in the rain:
15. Demist your front and back windscreens . This may seem like a simple tip but you must ensure you have the best vision possible when driving in the wet.
14. Do not use your high beam headlights. While it is important to use low beam headlights in the wet, high beam headlights are likely to reflect back on you, reducing visibility.
13. When driving through water .Driving through water. Generally, if the water is deeper than the bottom of your doors or the bottom third of your wheels, it is inadvisable to attempt driving through it. Use extreme caution, slow right down, it is important to watch the flow of the water and how fast it is going. If the water is too high seek a different route rather than braving the flood and risking damage to your electronic control systems.
12. Drive in the tracks of the car in front . Following another car’s tracks on wet roads can reduce the amount of water between the road and your car tyres. Whenever possible, slow down by taking your foot off the accelerator and avoid using your brakes
11. Steer into the skid. The first thing you should do is remain calm, ease your foot off the accelerator and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. This is called “steering into the skid” and will bring the back end of your car in line with the front. For cars without anti-lock brakes, avoid using your brakes. If your car has ABS brakes, brake firmly as you “steer into the skid”.
10. Engage in regular auto maintenance. Make sure you replace old, brittle windshield wipers, since they make already-challenging rainy weather visibility much worse. Check your breaks and tires regularly. Keep windshield clean and use your windshield defroster to keep the inside of your windows moisture-free.
9. Be aware of the most dangerous driving conditions. The road is the slickest at the beginning of a rainstorm that follows a long dry spell. This is because the residual oil and rubber-dust that has accumulated on the roads will mix with the water to form a very slick, skid-producing mixture. This slippery residue is especially prominent in intersections and other places where cars must idle for periods of time. If possible, avoid driving in the early part of rainstorms that follow dry periods, and if you must drive, exercise extra caution.
8. Do not use cruise control. If your car hydroplanes, the cruise control could actually cause your car to accelerate, which would be particularly dangerous.
7. Use your headlights, but not your high beams. Be sure to turn your headlights on, even in the lightest of rains. Headlights will help you be more visible to other drivers, as well as improve your own visibility. Do NOT, however, turn on your high beams. Doing so causes the light to bounce off of particles of water in the air, and will create a blinding effect to other drivers.
6. Be wary of water collected on the road. Never drive through moving water that you cannot see the ground beneath since doing so could cause your car could become swept off the road. Better yet, avoid large puddles altogether; driving into deep water or splashing water up under your car can cause considerable damage to your vehicle.
5. Tap your breaks lightly after crossing through a puddle. This will help dry out some of the water on your rotors.
4. Use the center lanes. Water tends to collect on the side of the roads, so drive as closely to the center of the road as you can without crossing over the yellow lines or being a hazard to cars around you.
3. Avoid using the breaks when possible. If it is safe to do so, slow down by releasing your foot from the gas pedal rather than hitting the breaks. When you do need to use your breaks, try to break as early as possible to alert drivers behind you that you are slowing down, and apply a steady but firm pressure.
2. Maintain a proper distance between your own car and the car in front of you. Under normal conditions, there should be a three second gap, but in the rain, cars need two to three times more stopping distance.
1. Slow Down! Decreasing your speed is the most important piece of advice for driving in the rain. Particularly when approaching puddles, be sure to use precaution. Hitting puddles of even a few inches at high speeds can cause you to lose control of your automobile. When driving in wet conditions, you are also more likely to encounter accidents or debris in the road that you will need to avoid. Traveling slowly ensures that you will have time to see and respond in a timely manner, even with decreased visibility and a longer stopping distance.