Are you ready for the driving rain?

Driving rain. You see what we did there? Last winter was the wettest on record. Parts of the UK were flooded with over 500mm of rain, and if recent downpours are anything to go by, we could be in for more of the same over the coming months.
If October’s high winds and driving rain have taken you completely by surprise, you’ve probably not given much thought to making sure your car can cope with the conditions – a position almost three quarters (73%) of UK motorists could find themselves in, according to the results of a TyreSafe survey. The survey of over 1,000 motorists also found just over a quarter (27%) had checked their tyre tread depth in the last month, which is the maximum period recommended between checks, while almost one-in-five (19%) have never checked their tyre tread depth.

Tread carefully

UK law stipulates car tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm – you can measure this by putting a 20p coin in your tyre tread, if the outer rim is obscured, your tyres are legal – yet more than a quarter (27%) questioned by TyreSafe thought it was less than this. If your car tyres don’t have adequate tread depth you may not be able to accelerate, brake or turn properly, which leads to increased stopping distances – at 70mph you’ll need over 600ft in the wet, the length of almost two football pitches – and there’ll be a greater risk of aquaplaning.

Tyred and emotional

Last year, illegal, defective or underinflated tyres were the cause of 968 casualties in the UK, while almost 3 million cars failed their MoT due to tyre problems. And there’s no excuse to not get your tyres checked out as this month is Tyre Safety Month, meaning you can get a free tyre health check from tyre retailers across the UK.

Driving in rain

Once your tyres are up to speed you then need to make sure your driving is by adapting to the weather and road conditions, so here are some top tips to stay safe on wet roads:
  • Keep well back from the vehicle in front as this will give you a greater stopping distance and allow you to see more of the road ahead, giving you early sight of any upcoming hazards
  • UK law states you must use your headlights when visibility is reduced to the point you can’t see further than 100m ahead. If visibility is particularly bad, you can also use your rear fog lights, remembering to turn them off when visibility improve.
  • If you find yourself aquaplaning your brakes will be of little use and steering will be unresponsive, so take your foot off the accelerator to slow down
  • If you feel the car behind you is getting too close, particularly if spray from vehicles is reducing visibility, sensible use of hazard lights can warn them to back off.
Increased rainfall brings with it an increased risk of flooding, so if you’re worried about driving through flood water, read Mark’s article Drivers get winter flood warning.

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