Four things to remember when driving in rain and fog

After a month of unbroken sunshine the forecast appears about to change to heavy rain and possibly thunderstorms, depending on what part of the country you’re in.

Here’s a checklist of the four things we should always be aware of when conditions are rainy or foggy as they often are at this time of year: lights, speed, wipers and tyres.

It doesn’t matter how experienced a driver you are, bad weather conditions can still cause problems, especially if, like us, you’re often driving in the early morning or at dusk, when visibility is more difficult.

Headlights

Both rain and fog can reduce drivers’ ability to see other vehicles as well as making it difficult to see ahead.

Rule 226 of the Highway Code says that you MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet). Also if you use rear or front fog lights you must switch them off once you are clear of the fog.

Another tip when driving in fog is to use dipped headlights.  Main beam can actually make it harder to see ahead because the light reflects off the fog.

Speed

In both rain and fog the advice is to slow down. You need to drive steadily and smoothly to stay in control and be prepared for the unexpected.

Braking distances increase dramatically in the rain so increase your distance from the vehicle in front.  This will also help you to avoid being in range of the spray that is thrown up from the wet road surface by lorries and other large vehicles.

Rain particularly can make road surfaces treacherous from oil deposits, especially after a long, dry spell. This can increase the risk of aquaplaning and skidding.  In either case, stamping on the brakes is not the way to deal with the loss of control. It’s better to decelerate slowly and steadily.

This brings us to the last two items.

Tyres and windscreen wipers

It’s a good idea to check the condition of wiper blades and tyres.

Tyre treads need to be at least 1.6mm deep and tyres should show no uneven wear or bulges as well as being inflated to the correct pressure for the conditions.

If wiper blades are a bit worn or the wipers are not clearing the surface of the windscreen evenly it may be necessary to replace the rubber blades, or get the wipers adjusted so that they work effectively.

Remember the scouting motto “be prepared” and we wish you safe driving.