Top Tips for Driving in Dangerous Weather

Driving is a serious enough task as it is without even thinking about adverse weather conditions. Even when all is plain sailing, and driving down a picture perfect road, even then you will need to be on the top of your game. But when bringing dangerous weather into the equation, all drivers, young and old, need to know how to handle the situation. There is nothing to fear, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prudent and aware of the risks.

So with that being said, check out these top tips for driving in dangerous weather. 

Rain

Car aquaplaning

With the onset of torrential rain, poor visibility can seriously hamper your driving ability and be a detriment to the safety of you and others. To help tackle this, beyond having working windscreen wipers, make sure to turn your lights on, allowing you to see the road ahead, other cars around, and also so other cars can see you.

Along with poor visibility, cars can be at risk of hydroplaning – this is when a car is driving too fast in heavy rain, which causes the tires of your vehicle to not grip the road correctly, instead traveling on a thin layer of water. Circumstances like this can be extremely dangerous, so make sure you drive slowly when faced with a barrage of rain. Another top tip here is avoid driving directly after it begins to rain, avoiding slick conditions.

Taking your time in these circumstances, along with giving other vehicles more space, can really help increase your safety and to reduce risk. Try giving the car in front of you an extra couple of seconds of space, allowing you more time to react should any accidents occur. 

We spoke to Trevor Catt of the Ford Owners Club on this topic, who had these pearls of wisdom on how to safely navigate conditions such as these.

“A major contributing factor leading to road traffic accidents tends to be excessive speed and specifically when approaching bends in wet or icy conditions” Mr Catt explained.

“Generally, on dry roads, taking a bend at speed is not too much of an issue. However, on wet or icy roads, trying to maintain traction when steering and braking is not a good combination.

The key factor here is identifying where a bend is approaching by looking ahead, especially at the profile of the road, lamp post or tree line and then to scrub off as much speed as possible by using the gears and a small amount of braking to allow the car to enter the bend naturally and at a more appropriate speed.

A handy phrase to remember when approaching bends or corners is 'slower in - quicker out”.

Another important tip comes via Steph Savill of FOXY Lady Drivers Club, who spoke to us about the importance of checking and changing your tyres.

"If I had no choice but to drive in dangerously heavy rain at least I'd know that my car tyres were up to the job. I check them monthly and make sure their tread is always above the legal limit of 1.6mm by going tyre shopping when it's nearer 3mm. I've tested different tyres and know to buy the best ones I can afford and that tread levels make a critical difference to my motoring safety when it comes to road grip and braking ability”.

This is some wonderful advice here from both Trevor and Steph. Everyone from learners to every day drivers would do well to take heed of it. 

Snow

snowy rural conditions

When driving in snow and other such blizzard like conditions, traction of your car on the road is of the utmost importance. As in these cold conditions, and when snow turns slushy, the tarmac can become slippery.

When trying to regain traction on the road, try slowly accelerating and decelerating. Taking your time in situations of this nature and slowly stepping on the accelerator can be the best guarantor of your safety and the successful navigation of snowy conditions.

It is highly recommended in times such as these to give the car in front of you more than the usual three to four seconds of room. Try increasing that to eight to ten seconds instead, therefore providing you and the other car a larger margin of error should anything untoward take place. 

Some other top tips for snowy driving include avoiding powering up hills as wheel spin can occur – try to get momentum on the flat road before hand and then use that to propel you uphill. Also try reducing your speed when travelling down; again using the cars momentum instead of the accelerator.

Instead of coming to a complete halt at traffic lights, if possible, try slowing down, allowing the lights to change before you get there. It’s much easier to get moving when rolling along than from a total stand still.

Experienced drivers will have picked up many of these tips along the way but for learner drivers even common sense tips such as turning slower than usual are important to embrace. You can’t just power your way through snow covered roads.

So once you’ve passed your test, and have picked up a new car from your Ford dealer, make sure to take in the advice above should you be faced with these difficult conditions. 

Wind

Open Road

Driving in heavy winds might not seem as dangerous compared to an oncoming monsoon, but be rest assured that these extremely blustery conditions are no picnic and deserve careful consideration.

When you know that you will be driving in such conditions, make sure to avoid wide open areas if possible, as this is where wind is more common. Although it can also pick up and become dangerous in other places like tunnels and motorways.

So try to anticipate these gusts of heavy wind as much as possible. Take extra care when you know of such weather conditions in your area and stay away from areas that might leave you susceptible. Always check that weather forecast before you head out.

You can do everything correctly when out on the road and still be at risk from other drivers. So when faced with high winds give extra consideration to larger vehicles such as caravans, Lorries, and tractors, as these can be harder to control. Always be vigilant and give as much room as you can to others.

If you happen to be driving one of these types of vehicles – or just want to be extra careful – make sure to keep a firm grip on your steering wheel, allowing yourself to have full control and mastery of your car should the wind start affecting the direction of your vehicle. 

Lightning

Violent Lightning

While the rubber in your tires does help to protect you during a lightning storm, that doesn’t mean you are one hundred percent safe and should go gallivanting off into the storm without a second thought.

Our most obvious tip is to not drive in a convertible during these conditions. Because there is no metal roof to protect you, the lightning won’t travel around your car and instead will likely hit you.

Lightning can also seriously affect electrical equipment, and these days you and your car will be armed to the teeth with such devices. So try not using the radio or to place any phone calls when caught in a lightning storm.

Instead, pull over and turn off your engine. Sit there and wait; wait for the storm to pass and then once it’s looking clear you can get back onto the road. This is all about risk aversion. The chances of you getting hit are unlikely but there is no point testing your luck.

Remembering the earlier advice of checking weather forecasts before setting out, and by pulling over as soon as things start to get hairy, you should be able to successfully, and more importantly, safely navigate any bolts coming your way.