Staying Safe On The Roads In Autumn
Autumn is here and with it comes some truly unpredictable weather with a yellow weather warning for this evening for many counties. We’re bracing for bad weather over the next few days so here are some tips to staying safe on the roads.
This might come as something of a given but rain negatively affects your visibility. Make sure your windscreen wipers are working as they should and give others plenty of space on the road.
Check your headlights at the same time too. Foggy lenses aren’t ideal at the best of times, doubly so when it’s raining. Automatic light settings will not always activate in bad weather conditions, so it is up to you to make a sensible decision as to whether these need to be turned on and also day time running lights don’t illuminate the rear of your car.
In the wet, the two-second rule doubles to the four-second rule. Wait until the car ahead has passed a stationary object and then count "one thousand and one, one thousand and two..." You shouldn't pass that same object until you've reached number four. Wet roads mean stopping distances are increased, necessitating the extra time between vehicles.
While you’re out there practising safe following distances, make sure your car is too. Do not use cruise control in wet or icy conditions.
Be alert to oncoming traffic
Look out for spray from oncoming traffic, especially trucks. It can blind you for crucial moments.
If there's a lot of surface water, keep a lookout for traffic moving at speed towards you on the other side of the road - especially trucks.
As they come alongside they can spray a huge amount of water straight onto your windscreen and it can take a few moments for vision to clear. If you think that might be about to happen, reduce speed (don't brake suddenly though) and watch the direction of the road carefully.
Beware of hydroplaning
Hydro-what? Hydroplaning occurs when you hit water too fast and the front wheels of your car lose contact with the road.
When there's a lot of surface water or you see a flooded section looming, slow down so that you retain steering control.
If you do hydroplane, stop accelerating and keep your hands on the wheel - but don't try to steer, as that won't help. You need to know where straight-ahead is when the tyres regain traction, so hold steady.
If your car has been for a wade, give your brakes a gentle test when you're out the other side.
Make sure you belong to a breakdown service
Cars are susceptible to breakdowns in wet weather, as electrics get wet and sometimes fail. It's dangerous to be stuck at the roadside in heavy rain, so make sure you have ready access to a breakdown service and a charged-up mobile phone so you can get help quickly.
If you have broken down, don't leave the bonnet up. That'll just let more water into the electrical works.