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How to drive safely in wet weather

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British weather is known for being unpredictable; so what do you do when the weather turns from toasty to torrential? Here are our top tips for driving safely in a summer downpour.

Rain on mirrors

Driving in heavy rain and flooding can be hazardous, and in the summer months, these downpours can come as a surprise. So it’s important to know how to prepare for more dangerous driving conditions.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and South Wales Police are 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.

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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."

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Check your windscreen wipers

Driving in rain

It's 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. This saves the blades and reduces 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

It's important to keep your speed down and drive with caution. Don't gamble driving down flooded roads and always think twice before crossing a ford.

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

South Wales Police say "Driving in rain will double your stopping distance, meaning you are at greater risk of collision.

Motorists should ensure that they maintain a safe distance and slow to a safe speed, as there will be a reduction in tyre grip."

Read more: The 5 best sat navs on the market

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.

Maintain a slow steady speed and 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.

South Wales police advise "To prevent skids, motorists should drive slowly and carefully, especially on bends."

They go on to say that "when you need to stop or slow, do not brake hard to prevent locking the wheels.

The heavy rain can also reduce drivers’ visibility, so motorists should be extra alert."

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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.

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

Always 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.

First published on the 14th of December 2016

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