IT’S official, rainy days are here, and road conditions can get awful for driving—slippery ground, floods, poor visibility—and yes, the monstrous traffic.
“Driving in the rain can be really dangerous, especially during the night, as it’s one of the worst conditions you can drive in,” says Carlos Ubaldo, director of Pinoy Driver blog, which helps motorists, especially new ones, pass government-required driving tests.
For this wet season, Ubaldo gives the following tips and advice to help motorists drive safely and avoid accidents on the road:
Before driving into a stormy weather:
Consider if you really need to go out and drive. Can you wait until it has stopped raining?
Let a friend or relative know about where you plan to go, your routine, and your estimated travel time. If you can, bring a travel buddy with you.
Plan your route in advance. Consider where you’re at and the routes you’re about to take. Are they not flooded?
Be sure to fill up. Air conditioner, lights, wipers, and possible heavy traffic will consume more fuel than usual.
Bring your mobile phone to use in case of emergencies. Bring an umbrella, as you’ll have to leave your car at some point.
Drive slower than you would at normal weather conditions. Don’t forget to leave enough space between you and the vehicle you are following. Many countries use the two-second rule — count “one-thousand-and-one, two-thousand-and-two” between a point on the road that the car in front of you passes until you pass the same point. It’s advisable to double this distance when driving on wet roads. That means using a four-second rule as gap to the vehicle you are following. If you are driving a heavy vehicle, you must increase this gap even further.
Avoid using rear fog lights. They can make your brake lights less visible and even dazzle motorists trailing behind you.
Keep the radio on and listen to news and updates on traffic conditions, floodings, road closures, and other road status and conditions.
Slow down. Driving too fast on wet road surfaces might cause your tires to lose direct contact with the road. This is called hydroplaning, also known as aquaplaning. This significantly reduces your traction and your steering wheel will feel very light. When this happens, stay as calm as you can and avoid abrupt motions. Don’t step on the brakes suddenly, let go of the accelerator, and steer gently and slightly to your desired direction until you regain traction and complete control of your wheel again.
Be mindful of other road users. When you see pedestrians, cyclists, or motorcyclists ahead, slow down so you don’t spatter them, especially where there are potholes. After all, you would want to be treated the same.
Turn on the air conditioner or the defroster (if you have one), when the windshield starts to fog. Driving in the rain will more likely make your windshield foggy due to temperature change. This will severely restrict your visibility of the road. Keeping your air-conditioner turned on will deal with this problem.
When driving through floods is inevitable:
If you’re unsure about the depth of the flood, don’t attempt to drive through it. Try to look for an alternative route. If there’s no other road, try to drive on higher segments of the road.
Make sure you have a clear path ahead before you set off, so you won’t stop in the middle of the water, as your engine will be damaged if water enters it via the muffler. Keep your revs up to avoid this by using a low gear. If driving a manual vehicle, you can depress the clutch to keep the revs up without moving.
Drive steady and slow and in a low gear (as mentioned above) and make sure that you don’t take your feet off of the accelerator while you’re still in the water, as this will push off the water and prevent it from coming into your muffler.
Never drive through waters with strong currents; you don’t want yourself and your car to get washed away by fast flowing water.
Never start the engine when you’re in deep flood, as it will cause damages to your engine. If your engine ceases while still trying to pass through the water, call for assistance to have your vehicle assessed first.
Don’t forget to test your brakes once you’ve gone past the flood. Your brakes might give less to very little braking power when wet, and so you should dry them immediately by lightly applying the brakes while continuing to drive. You only need to do this a few seconds until you feel the increase in braking pressure. The friction and heat from the brakes dries the discs or brake shoes quickly.
So there, motorists. Be safe and keep dry.