• DRIVING IN THE RAIN

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    hydroplanning20130716Some are commonsensical, others need a bit more explaining; during this wet season, heed these advices

    WE’RE well into the rainy season now, and this calls for a new set of car-control skills if we are to take on the wet, wet roads.

    This starts with making some adjustments in the way you drive. Driving in wet weather requires gentle inputs on the car’s steering, clutch, brake and accelerator, as well as allowing for larger margins for errors and emergencies. Accelerating hard, stomping on the brakes or taking a corner too fast can cause the car’s wheels to lose grip, so it’s best to be smooth at using the controls.

    Some of the steps needed for wet-weather driving are commonsensical, like wiping off shoes on the floor mats before driving as wet shoes are likely to slip off the pedals. Other requirements, meanwhile, are actually a must in any weather condition—they just take on more significance during the rainy season.

    These include ensuring that the car’s headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are all working properly, as well as the hazard lights as these are crucial during an emergency—like when the car stalls. That said, do not use the hazard lights just because it had started raining—a common but erroneous practice that misinformed Filipino drivers have picked up, from where or whom it is hard to tell. Use only the hazard lights to alert other drivers that your car has become a hazard on the road (or by the side of it) as it had stalled. Switching them on while driving renders your car’s turn signal lights inoperable, and in poor visibility, signaling your intentions to other drivers guarantees safety.

    Switch on your headlights (which means the taillights also come on) instead, and use the turn signals to inform others of your intentions.

    Also, make sure that the car’s tires still have deep enough treads in them. Treads are not decorative pieces but are there to disperse water from the tire’s surface. If too much water collects in between the tire and the road, traction is lost and with it goes control (see sidebar).

    Check the car’s brakes—no, this is not a wet-weather driving necessity but an all-season one.

    Of course, one of the most elementary things to check if they are working properly are the wipers. Besides testing if they work when you switch them on, determine whether their blades—the rubber part that comes in contact with the windshield—could actually wipe water off. If not, replace these. These are cheap stuff, so there is no excuse. Well, the likely crash that you will get into if you drive in the pouring rain with faulty wipers is more costly.

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