Driving During Rainy Days

chakky's picture

"Serendipity favors the trained mind" , phrase I learned from one of my Biology classes. I think it was by Louis Pasteur but its something I always reminiscence.

As I was driving today through the heavy rains, I started thinking back to the times I have had an accident and if not all, most of the incidents have been during rainy days or nights when I did everything as I normally do, but the wet roads ensure that the dynamics and end results are different.

Based on my experiences, I have become a safer driver today but it only brought out one reality.

A good driver is not someone who can consistently drive over 100km/hr for long distances despite the kind of traffic. But a good driver is someone who always learns from his mistakes and anticipates each time he sees a similar situation and environment and works to correct it.

If I start writing on my experiences it will be quite long, so for now let me explain a few situations every driver should be prepared to face specially during the monsoon rains.

a) Sudden Brakes - Our cars or bikes stop well when the roads are dry but when they are wet, not only is the water slippery, the oil that was absorbed by the tar on the road also freely floats giving us less traction, so we need to learn to brake carefully.

b) Aquaplaning - Have you ever felt happiness when you drive through water on the road side and splash it on the walker by? :)

I know it looks cool to see the water spraying and maybe see the other person fuming due to getting dirty and wet.

However there is one grave danger in what you do and its called aquaplaning. Our tyres are designed such that it gets grip from the road. This is why they have grooves. Now most tyres when they go over water filled roads, the water goes between these grooves outside. However when the water quantity is more, the grooves on the tyre wont suffice for the water to flow out resulting in the tyre floating over it. Now depending on the speed and weight of the car, the tyre may slow down or else like a pebble thrown acutely on the water surface, it will skim and go out of control and spin, slide or sink(if too much water). So when you see water next time, think twice specially if your tires are worn out.

c) Water Splashes - If you are new to the car you use or if you like driving in the high speed lane, always keep in mind that suddenly water can splash onto your glass due to vehicles on the other lanes going in same direction or opposite direction. This can blind you. Now your wipers would be working and if its not too much water, you will comfortably pass the zone. But sometimes the water may be too much and it would be wise for you to keep your cool and dont grip your steering or stomp your foot on the brakes or accelerator and send your vehicle out of control. There is nothing you can do other than continue the normal way as you imagine the road ahead in your mind and navigate. So preparedness can only save you here.

d) Tailing - Rainy times is not the best of seasons to tail another vehicle. Agreed, if you use the draft created by the vehicle in front you, you will get better mileage and you can travel more hassle free. But there is the major issue of sudden brakes as mentioned above, so do it with care. Also you wont know when the guy sees a pothole or some traffic in front and swerves or brakes...

e) Using Hazard lights - If there is a sudden down pour and visibility is reduced considerably it is always wise to switch on your headlights or park lights as well as your hazard lights just to ensure that no one suddenly comes and bangs you from behind. When visibility gets better switch off the hazard lights as it prevents the vehicles behind you from knowing when you are attempting to change lanes. Always having park lights switched on in heavy rains is advisable.

f) Curves and Potholes - During rains, there is higher possibility of forming potholes filled with water and one of the things you got to realize is suddenly braking on seeing a pothole, does you no good. So if you did not notice a pothole or water on the road 10 metres ahead, you save nothing by accelerating or suddenly braking. Just let the vehicle go through the motion. Sudden braking or swerving to avoid the pothole causes higher possibilities of accidents specially to the unaware guys behind you.

I hope these points will help give you some sense of the major issues you expect while driving on rainy days and nights.

Driving maybe 10-20km/hr slower than you normally drive is always advisable.

Happy Rainy Day Driving :)

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