Carlease Advice: How to Drive Safely in Rain
Drive Safely in the Rain
Rain-drenched winter and spring days in a desert nation like the UAE are always a cause for celebration. Get behind the wheel of your car, however, and you may end up gritting your teeth in frustration at the stupidity of the drivers around you who, like you, may be unaware of the basic rules that keep you safe on wet roads.Here’s a complete guide on how to drive safely in the rain.
So you’re driving in the rain, scrunching your eyes to see better even as windshield wipers do their thing, keeping a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you. The traffic is moving slowly but then, out of nowhere, a driver (idiot!) in the lane next to you decides to change lanes and cut in in front of you. You know this guy – it’s the same driver who sees every gap between cars as an opportunity that must not missed, zigging and zagging between lanes only to get nowhere. It’s the driver that others snigger at when they encounter the same car two miles down, proving that all that hectic footwork was for nothing.
Don’t be that driver – not ever, but especially when it’s raining. There may be a patent pending for tiny minions armed tiny wipers who man your wing mirrors to keep maximum visibility through two layers of rain – on your window and on the mirror – but don’t hold your breath. Chances are that no vehicles – not yours nor the ones swerving in front of you – have optimum peripheral visibility to absorb random, sudden lane changes.
On top of the Dubai Police’s list of driving behaviors that cause accidents is frequent lane changes. During rain, when accidents have been reported in the UAE every two minutes, the police say that the cause is that motorists don’t adjust their speed or maintain distance from other vehicles to suit the weather.
So what is the best, medal worthy driving behavior during rains?
Before you leave
Check your tires
Are your tires rain-worthy? Tires with good tread allow water to pass through the grooves without losing their grip on the road. If your tires are bald you do not have the same protection. At Carlease, regular maintenance and checks ensure that our customers get rain-safe cars. If your tires do not have enough tread, they may aquaplane and cause you to skid. It is especially important that you check the tread on your tires when doing your final vehicle inspection during the rental process – this is the right time at which to raise any issues.
Check your wipers
Are your wipers in good condition? It’s a good idea to check your wipers every now and then through the year by switching them on. Wipers in good condition will clean your windshield leaving no residue in their trail. They will also turn fully and the blades will not hang loose. At Carlease, the maintenance check takes care of this but again, this is something you should check for yourself before checking out your car and every once in a while.
On the road
Slow down and maintain a safe distance. It’s not you, it’s the road. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) warns that because rainfall is an infrequent phenomenon, the surface of the road may become slippery as oil and dirt are washed to the surface. Skidding is a possibility. Keep to the posted speed limit – both minimum and maximum. RTA recommends less than 80 kph to avoid aquaplaning. More about that below.
Puddles = Speed Breakers
Treat puddles like speed breakers. A sudden spray of water whooshing from your tires is not the friendliest thing to do to a pedestrian. Additionally, the water jetting on the windows can startle other drivers, causing momentary loss of visibility.
There are other, more selfish, reasons for treading carefully over those “water ponds”, as RTA like to call them. The shower hitting the right spot on the engine could cause it to stall or make your brakes less effective. Additionally, there may be a large pothole that could hit your suspension or flatten a tire. Most importantly, if your car has an air intake on the bottom of the car, speeding through a water puddle may cause the water to get in to the engine, causing massive damage that is never covered by an insurance company. This is especially true for German cars (and yes, we’ve dealt with this issue many many times)
Avoid underpasses and underground parking
Heavier rain in the UAE has a habit of going from a cooling shower to a deluge within a very short period of time. To avoid damaging your car, or returning to your car from a quick meeting only to find it floating around like a boat, avoid parking your car in underground parking garages during heavy rains. Similarly, avoid parking next to highway overpasses or in underpasses: low-lying areas where flood water may accumulate (again, we’ve seen this much more than we’d like to).
Turn on the lights, please
Turn on your headlights. But please, NOT your hazard lights. According to Article 63, UAE Federal Traffic Law Number 21, 1995, you must use lights during the day when visibility is poor.
If the rain is very heavy, pull over on the side of the road and wait for it to ease off. Remember, you’re in a desert and you can always afford to wait for a heavy downpour to stop.
The RTA helpfully tells you how to guard against aquaplaning, which occurs when you go too fast over too much water on the road, causing loss of control when the vehicle skis over the surface of the water. You will know that you’re aquaplaning if you feel as though the steering is non-responsive and your vehicle is weaving at the back. This can be seriously exacerbated by balding tires.
Speed, tire pressure, tire state, and depth of water combine to cause aquaplaning. Driving at less than 80 kph is the safest over water. Follow the tracks of the vehicle in front of you, keeping a safe distance of at least four seconds. The middle lane is usually the best place to be, because water will gather on the edges of the road.
If you do find your vehicle aquaplaning,
- Switch on your hazard lights.
- Don’t brake or accelerate and keep a firm grip on the steering.
- Gradually reduce your speed by releasing the accelerator.
- Once you feel like you’re back in control, either brake or accelerate, but gently.
- Keep an eye open for vehicles that may get too close.
Road safety requires everyone to be on their best behavior. Go ahead and share these tips to make UAE roads safer!
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