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How to drive safely in wet weather

A car driving on a snowy roadAs the British winter draws nearer drivers are being advised to take care on wet roads. Here are our top tips for driving safely in the rain.

Driving in heavy rain and flooding can be hazardous so it is important to know how to prepare for more dangerous driving conditions.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is offering advice to help motorists get ready for the wet weather.

Driving on a wet surface

Peter Rodger, chief examiner at the IAM, says: "A suddenly very wet road surface increases the chances of slipping when braking or steering.

"This is a problem not just for motorists, but cyclists and motorcyclists too."

Driving in wet conditions increases stopping distances and visibility is reduced.

Experts urge drivers to drop their speed and give themselves more time to slow down.

"Watch for floods on bends, if you can't see where you're going to come out of the water, think twice about starting to drive into it," Rodger adds.

Avoid wet leaves

A patch of wet leaves can be as dangerous as hitting standing water.

"Remember that leaves can be slippery, especially when wet, so avoid hard acceleration or braking as it can cause skidding," Rodger says.

"Be aware that there may be a dip, pothole or other road hazard hiding under the leaves covering the road, and hold the wheel firmly if you must drive over them."

Check your windscreen wipers

Car with driver side mirror covered in rainIt is also important to make sure your wiper blades are in good condition.

If they squeak as they wipe, they probably need replacing.

Always make sure they are turned off before starting the ignition to save the blades and the risk of a blown motor fuse when the first frost hits.

Torrential rain mixed with strong winds is a dangerous combination, which can be overwhelming when you're driving.

Driving through a storm

In the build up to the St Jude storm which caused chaos across southern England in late October, motoring organisation and car insurance provider the AA advised motorists to watch their speed.

Darron Burness, head of special operations at the AA, says: "It's very important to keep your speed down and drive with great care, particularly on country roads.

"Don't gamble driving down flooded roads and think twice before crossing a ford.

"If you're using a sat nav, be sensible and try to stick to the main routes where possible."

Watch out when driving through water

If you do decide to drive through shallow water, drive on the highest section of the road using the edge of the kerb as an indicator of the depth of water.

Burness advises maintaining a "slow steady speed" and says once you're safely through the water, test your brakes as soon as you can.

Driving fast through standing water is dangerous as tyres lose contact with the road and you lose steering control, known as aquaplaning.

It only takes six inches of fast-flowing water to knock you off your feet and one foot of water to float a car.

Breaking down in wet weather

If you do break down in wet weather it is advised to pull over to a safe visible place and wait for help to arrive.

Burness says: "Don’t prop open the bonnet while waiting for the breakdown patrol as the engine will be more difficult to start again if the electrics are rain-soaked.

"If it's bad where you are, keep tuned to the weather and traffic reports – in case of road or bridge closures – and heed any local police advice about whether it's safe to travel.”

What do you think?

What are your wet weather driving tips?

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