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13 Jan 2020
Jamie Gibbs Jamie Gibbs

Driving in heavy rain and winds


A fallen tree lying across a road

Wet roads can cause accidents and downpours decrease visibility. Here are our top tips for staying safe in adverse conditions.

Driving during a storm or a weather alert can be scary and hazardous. It can also be confusing to know what to do if you're affected by the bad weather. This guide should help.

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Driving in heavy winds 

With gusts as high as 70 mph, driving during heavy winds can be hazardous.

This is especially true if you drive over a bridge, in a large open space or in tunnels.

Here are some tips to stay safe in windy weather:

  • Keep both hands firm on the wheel. This gives you more control if you're blown off-course.

  • Be aware of taller vehicles like lorries and caravans. Heavy winds affect them even more so they might have difficulty staying in control.

  • Give more room to cyclists and motorbikes. A sudden gust may force them to veer across the road.

  • Slow down. This gives you more time to react to changes in the wind and to any fallen trees on the road.

Can I claim for storm damage to my car?

Knowing if you can claim for damage during a weather warning is confusing for many motorists. 

A comprehensive policy should cover you for damage caused by falling trees or debris. 

If you make a claim on your policy for this, it would be an ‘at fault’ claim. This doesn’t mean you’re to blame. It means that the insurance company can’t reclaim the repair costs from a third-party.

Is my car covered for flood damage?

A comprehensive policy should cover you against storm damage. Make sure you check your policy T&Cs before you claim.

Unless it's necessary, you should avoid driving through any amount of water over a few inches. Water can cause corrosion of your car's mechanical parts, or damage the engine. 

If you damage your car because you've driven through flood water, your insurer may not cover the claim. This is because they may think you could have avoided the damage.

If you find that floodwater is in your car, there are a few steps you should take to make sure it’s still roadworthy:

  • Put on protective clothing and gloves before you investigate. Debris and sewage can contaminate the water.

  • Don’t try and start the engine. Water could still be in the cylinders of the car, which could cause further damage if started.

  • Arrange for a mechanic to pick up and fix your car.

  • Check for water in the oil. If the dipstick has water droplets, you'll need to change both the oil and the filter.

  • Get a professional to clean and dry out any wet upholstery. That way it eliminates the chances of mildew forming.

Take photos of the car and make accurate records of any damage. This should help with any insurance claims you make.

If you have possessions in the car, list those along with any receipts.

Your insurer will then consider whether they'll repair the car or write it off.

A car stopped on the road with its headlights on during a heavy rain.

Driving on wet roads

Driving in wet conditions increases stopping distances and reduces your visibility.

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

To stay safe:

  • Drop your speed on wet roads to give yourself time to slow down if needed.

  • Avoid wet leaves. These can be as dangerous as standing water.

  • Watch out for floodwater on bends. If you don't know when you'll come out of the water, it might not be worth the risk of driving into it.

  • Drive on the highest section of the road. You can use the edge of the kerb as an indicator of the water's depth.

  • Maintain a slow steady speed as you drive through any water.

  • Test your brakes as soon as you're out of the water.

South Wales Police says:

"Driving in rain doubles your stopping distance, so there's a greater risk of collision.

"Drivers should maintain a safe distance and slow to a safe speed, as there'll be a reduction in tyre grip."

Read more: How to deal with tailgaters without losing your rag 

Breaking down in wet weather

If you break down in wet weather you should pull over to a safe, visible place and wait for help to arrive.

Don’t prop open the bonnet while waiting for roadside help. The engine will be more difficult to start if the electrics are rain-soaked.

Stay tuned into weather and traffic reports. This will tell you if any roads or bridges are closed. If the police say not to travel, it's worth listening to them. 


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