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14 easy to follow tips on driving safely in the rain

Charl Grobler
By Charl Grobler
December 07, 2016

14 easy to follow tips on driving safely in the rain

Slick, slippery roads and poor visibility make driving in the rain both stressful and dangerous. Suzuki expert Charl Grobler shares advice on staying safe during the downpour.

Wet roads, poor fellow drivers and severely limited visibility all lead to driving stress, possible danger and avoidable accidents when the rain comes down. Charl Grobler, manager of marketing and product planning at Suzuki South Africa, shares his insights and some easy-to-follow advice on driving safely on the slick South African roads.

    1. TYRE PRESSURE AND TREAD Keep your tyres at optimum levels and, importantly, check your tyre tread. “Worn down tyres are very dangerous on slippery roads,” says Charl, because they have less grip against the slick road. The AA adds, “One of the main dangers in the wet is when the tread on the tyres is no longer able to channel away water, and the tyre lifts off the road surface and starts to skim across the water like a speedboat. This 'aquaplaning', as it's called, can happen at slow speeds with little water on the road if your tyres are badly worn. But with enough water on the road, even new tyres will aquaplane, and at lower speeds than you might expect.”
    2. STOPPING DISTANCE Driving fast, in a heavy car or on a wet road all increase your stopping distance dramatically. Say Arrive Alive, “Increase the three- second rule to 5-6 seconds to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you.” (Read more about the importance of stopping distances in our blog post on 9 safe driving tips.)
    3. BE PROACTIVE Try and think ahead to what could happen on the road. Indecisiveness makes you unpredictable and dangerous to your fellow drivers, so don’t act hastily, but don’t be overly cautious. Keep the traffic flowing with decisive driving.
    4. BE WARY OF THE FIRST RAIN OF THE SEASON Oil collects on the road, and after the first rain it floats to the surface and makes the road slicker than usual.
    5. DRIVING ON THE SHOULDER “Only move towards the shoulder if you are able to see clearly 150m ahead of you. Keep in mind that pedestrians may be walking on the shoulder to avoid the mud next to the surface of the road,” says Arrive Alive.
    6. CLEAN YOUR WIPER BLADES Visibility is tricky as it is in the deluge, so don’t add to it with poorly maintained wiper blades. Replace them regularly, and give them a wipe occasionally too.
    7. DRIVING AROUND BENDS Says Arrive Alive, “Always change to a lower gear before you take a bend, especially a sharp bend. Your speed should be at its slowest as you enter the bend and both your hands should be on the steering wheel. This slow in/fast out technique gives you most control when driving around a bend.”
    8. DON’T TURN ON YOUR HAZARDS “They’re intended for stationary cars,” says Charl, “and though they increase visibility, they are also distracting and confusing.”
    9. DEMIST YOUR WINDOWS Instead of keeping the air con on, and you and your guests cold, turn on the heater, switch the setting to the windscreen and warm up the glass to keep it fog free. Says AA, “It's nearly impossible to stay safe without visibility - how often haven't you seen drivers helplessly trying to clear a patch on a fogged windscreen, or feeling their way through heavy rain with failed windscreen wipers. If your heater, demister or wipers are deficient in any way, get them seen to now, before it's too late.” If you have a climate controlled car, it will do all of this itself.
    10. WATCH OUT FOR PUDDLES “Be careful of puddles, they be hiding potholes,” warns Charl.
    11. DON’T DRIVE THROUGH DEEP WATER Anything above ankle height, especially if it’s fast moving, is dangerous and could stall or stop your car. Water can get sucked up the exhaust and damage the electrics, so be wary of water that look too high. Read our post on flash floods for more information on staying safe in deep water
    12. DON’T BRAKE SUDDENLY Says Arrive Alive, “Never use the brakes suddenly because this may cause the car to skid.”
    13. KEEP YOUR HEADLIGHTS ON Do anything to increase how visible you are on the road, including turning on your headlights - not your fog lights.
    14. BE EXTRA CAREFUL OF YOUR BLIND SPOT Rain-splattered windows impair visibility even more, so be extra aware of cars in the your blind spots.

For more driving tips, read our 9 easy driving tips that can save your life. Or keep up to date with all the latest blog articles from Suzuki,subscribe to the Suzuki blog for driving tips, insider advice, safety advice and more, straight to your inbox.

This guide will help you troubleshoot some common car problems, so that you know whether or not you need to contact a mechanic. It also covers a variety of driver safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.
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