Adverse weather conditions often pose greater safety risks to your journey and will require you to be extra mindful of the road ahead.
Ensure sure you check the latest forecasts and traffic news before driving in bad weather. You should also try and set off a little earlier so that you have enough time to drive with caution.
Heavy rain and floods
With heavy rainfall comes a catalogue of sudden risks, including slippery surfaces, reduced visibility and 'aquaplaning', the process where the vehicle's tyres lose contact with the road when ploughing through large puddles. In fact, one foot of floodwater moving at 6mph is enough to float a regular saloon vehicle, while getting as little as 40ml of water trapped in your engine’s combustion chamber is be enough to render it useless.
Before setting out in heavy rain, ensure you've checked that your tyres are well inflated and your windscreen wipers are fully functional. Drive slowly and gently for better control, and keep about twice the usual distance between yourself and the vehicle in front. If visibility is poor, ensure you headlights are always on. Do not drive through deep or fast-moving water. As a rule of thumb, avoid puddles that reach over halfway up your vehicle's wheels. If you do drive through floodwater, do so slowly and cautiously, and stick to the highest part of the road. Floodwater often hides hazards, such as open manholes and road damage. If your vehicle begins aquaplaning and loses traction while driving through water, stay calm, ease off the accelerator, and hold the steering wheel with a light grip. Then, gently guide it in the direction you wish to go. Test your brakes as soon as possible after you've driven through water. In the event you break down in torrential rain, avoid opening your bonnet until help arrives, otherwise the electrical systems may get damaged. Likewise, if you break down while driving through deep water, do not try to restart the engine as this can cause a lot more damage. Always wait for professional help instead.
High winds are especially problematic for high-sided vehicles like lorries, but can be just as hazardous for passing cars, cyclists and motorcyclists. Aside from being blown off course, other vehicles may be blown into your path, or debris such as uprooted trees may be blocking the road ahead. Open stretches of road and bridges are the most exposed to crosswinds, and so it’s always worth keeping a close eye on what's happening to the vehicles around you.
Before travelling in high winds, consider whether there is an alternative route you can take with less exposure to dangerous crosswinds. Maintain a good distance between yourself and other vehicles, and drive slowly. Take extra care when overtaking high-sided vehicles as they cause more turbulence in windy weather. Avoid parking your vehicle under trees or near buildings in case of falling debris.