Statistics show that the number of accidents increases significantly in wet weather. In some countries the number of accidents is even higher when it is raining than when it is snowing.
The reason for this is that most people are not aware of the dangers that wet roads carry and do not take the right mentality and precautions. On the other hand, when they see snow on the road, they are more than aware of how they need to adjust their driving.
While we do not see snow in Singapore, we do see lots of rain and therefore, we as drivers should arm ourselves with good knowledge on driving in wet weather.
Here are some tips to keep you safe on wet roads.
1. Use the Right Amount of Power
Yes, there is such a thing as too much power. And yes, you can control how much power your car uses.
Suddenly sending too much power to your wheels on wet roads easily results in wheel spin and that is one of the most dangerous causes of accidents on wet roads, even at lower speeds.
Not everyone knows that the stated power and torque ratings of your engine are the top figures that the engine produces only at certain revs. Below that point you will have significantly less power. These revs vary depending on the engine, but for naturally aspirated ones (without turbochargers or superchargers), it is usually higher up in the rev range, almost always past 4,000 revs.
For engines with turbochargers drivers should be able to feel when the turbo kicks in and the car has a more direct push.
Keep your foot calm, add throttle steadily, shift gears before you reach higher revs and you will be able to keep your power and torque levels well under the ones that would cause wheel spin. This is especially important in cars with automatic gearboxes as gearbox software needs to guess the revs that you want. Do not give it the idea that you want to drive spiritedly.
2. Keep Your Distance
Braking distances can increase dramatically on wet roads. There are a number of factors that influence how badly the distance will increase, including the amount of water, your speed, the weight of your car and similar, but what is constant is that the braking distance is not the same as in dry conditions.
Keeping your distance at a safe level gives you more time to react even in conditions with worse visibility and it gives your brakes more time to stop the car.
3. Have Good Tyres
Related to the previous point, good tyres are essential for safety in any conditions and especially so in wet ones.
There are numerous technical points that explain why this is so and they would deserve an article on its own. In short, think about it this way:
You have more than a ton of steel moving at a high speed and you have yourself and your family or friends inside something spacious and family-orientated MPV like a Honda Shuttle and the only thing connecting all that to the road are those four pieces of rubber. Keep them in a good condition and replace them on time. On wet roads they will significantly increase grip, reduce braking distance, improve control and help through pools of water. Tyres are not something you want to skim on.
Which brings us to the next point…
4. Pools of Water On the Road
If you have ever hit a pool of water on the road at a bit higher speed, you should be aware of the back pressure this creates. Depending on the size of the pool, your speed and weight, this can completely disconnect your tyres from the road for a second. Techically, this is known as aquaplaning. At that point, you have no control over your vehicle, it slows down rapidly and the direction is not held properly. If this happens, do NOT slam on the brakes or change directions rapidly.
While it usually only lasts for a part of second, any sudden and aggressive input can lead to a number of control issues once your car reconnects to the road.
While those moments are more than noticeable, bear in mind that, in rainy weather, your car constantly drives through smaller puddles. Your tyres battle with these conditions all the time and you are not even aware of it. This only reinstates the importance of good tyres, keeping your distance and steady speeds with limited power.
5. Turn On Your Lights
This is important not only because you will be able to see what is in front of you more easily, but because you will also be more visible to other drivers. Remember that your tail lights are only on when your headlights are on, so turning them on will make you visible to other drivers in bad weather.
6. Driving through flooded roads
Our best advice can be summed up in one word: DON’T!
If you have to, make sure the water is not too deep and drive slowly for several reasons. Even if you know the road well, you cannot know what is under water or how deep the water is and you may damage your car on rocks or debris.
Secondly, if you plow through water too fast, you may increase its level or water around your car and it may enter your engine. As water does not compress the same way air does, you can completely destroy your engine.
Next, keep the revs relatively high (while still driving slowly, usually in the first gear) to keep the exhaust flow high to prevent water from going into the exhaust.
Lastly, when you are out of the flooded section, press the brakes a few times to remove water and make them function as they should.
7. Be Extra Careful
This should go without saying, but it is easily forgotten. It is normal that your vision is worsened in the rain, that your car does not have the grip that it usually does, that your regular input can be too aggressive on wet road but this also stands for other drivers. All of these issues multiplied by a number of drivers in the same intersection dramatically increases the potential for an accident to happen. And in the unfortunate event that it does, make sure you know what to do in the event of a car accident.
Check everything several times, make sure there aren’t any motorcyclists and only enter intersections when you are sure you have all the aspects and angles covered. Relying on luck is definitely not something you should do in these circumstances.