After the Philippine weather bureau announced on May 24 that the rainy season has officially begun, the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) reminded motorists to drive safely in inclement weather conditions.
AAP president Gus Lagman said: “Road crashes are more likely to happen in bad weather, so motorists should take the necessary precautions.”
Lagman stressed that motorists should take safety steps before driving in the rain by making sure that both driver and vehicle are in tip-top shape. He advised motorists to have their vehicles regularly checked, especially the tires, brakes. lights and wipers.
Motorists should make sure that they have a clear view by keeping their windshields clean, wipers operational and headlights functioning properly.
“A clear view, good traction and strong brakes would make a vehicle ready to be driven in a heavy downpour,” Lagman said. “A fully equipped driver who is in the right frame of mind would lessen the chances of an accident.”
Compromised visibility will increase the risk of a road mishap, he said. “Having a clear view of the road ahead would give you enough time to decide on what to do if you see an approaching threat or obstacle.”
He also reminded motorists to wear their seatbelts as a precautionary measure and as mandated by Republic Act No. 8750, which states that the seatbelt law covers “drivers and front seat passengers of public and private motor vehicles and other vehicles.”
A P1,000 fine for the first offense and up to P5,000 and possible suspension of the driver’s license for the third and succeeding violations shall be imposed if the driver fails to use the seatbelt or does not require his passengers to use seatbelts.
In case of a flash flood, the motorist should try to pull over to the side and stop, Lagman said. “Pick an area where you and your car are safe from rising floodwaters, possible falling branches and electric cables.”
A driver should not endanger the vehicle by driving through a flood since wet roads cause poor traction, Lagman added.
The AAP chief explained that usually, the first 10 minutes of a heavy downpour are the most dangerous as oil and debris rise up before being washed away. “In a worst case scenario, motor vehicles experience hydroplaning or getting stuck in the mud.”
Moreover, water puddles could be hiding craters or deep potholes that would damage tires and rims, and even get some parts in the engine bay wet.
Lagman advised motorists to turn on their headlamps instead of hazard lights when driving under heavy rain to increase visibility of one’s vehicle.
“Turning on hazard lights instead of headlamps could mislead other drivers into thinking that your car is stalling,” he said. “It also keeps other road users guessing whether you’re turning left or right or going straight ahead.”
Finally, he urged motorists to practice defensive driving: “Most of the time, drivers who get into accidents are the ones who drive offensively and aggressively instead of defensively. Whatever the season, those who drive offensively more often suffers from a disaster,” he said.
“Even during good weather, a driver who does not practice safe driving techniques usually ends up in a road crash,” Lagman concluded.