How to drive in rain and on wet roads

Driving conditions can get a bit tricky as autumn turns to winter - the wet roads are made even more treacherous by the fallen mulched-up leaves, high winds and heavy rain. And if all that isn’t enough to slow you down, the glare from the low-lying sun just might be. So to help stay safe on the roads, check out these tips on how to drive in rain and on wet roads.

Getting ready for the wet conditions

You’ll need a good grip on the road so make sure your tyres are up to the job. UK law states car tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm – this is the width of the rim on a 20p piece, or the gold rim on a £2 coin – but if your tyres are anywhere near this limit it’s worth getting them changed for the winter. It may also be worth considering changing to winter tyres until the spring.

Driving in rain

When the weather changes, it’s important to remember to change your driving style to suit the conditions, here’s what you need to do to stay safe in the rain:
  • Use dipped headlights to make sure drivers can see you more easily – it’s more difficult to judge speeds and distance when the weather is grim so you need to make sure you can be seen.
  • Don’t use your rear fog lights and they can dazzle drivers behind and even mask your brake lights.
  • Slow down and keep well back from the vehicle in front as stopping distances increase considerably in the wet.
  • Look out for any upcoming hazards as well as large or fast-moving vehicles that can produce spray and decrease visibility even further.

Driving on wet roads and flooded areas

  • Slow right down in flooded areas or even when approaching large puddles as driving too fast through standing water can lead to your tyres losing contact with the road, this is known as aquaplaning.
  • If you find your car aquaplaning, your brakes won’t be much use and steering will be unresponsive. To slow down, take your foot off the accelerator and let your speed reduce gradually.
  • If a car behind is getting too close, don’t brake to warn them to back off as this can easily lead to an accident, flick on your hazard lights instead.
  • Don’t attempt to drive through water if you don’t know how deep it is as driving through deep water can cause serious and expensive damage. So use roadside objects like kerbs or buildings to gauge the depth.
  • If the water is deep but passable, drive slowly and steadily so as not to create waves but try not to stop completely if possible. And once through the flood water, test your brakes to make sure they’re still responsive.
  • Don’t drive through fast flowing water as your car could easily get swept away.
Adapting to the conditions, staying calm and taking your time are the key to driving safely in rain and on wet roads.

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