As kids, we all loved to play in the rain and jump into puddles with our friends. Fast forward a few decades and you are in the driver’s seat of your car and suddenly the only thing you can think about is how to get out of the rain. Driving during the monsoon season is one of the most daunting times to drive in India. Not only does it take longer to get to your destination, but you have to be careful of the numerous dangers that come with driving on slick, wet roads. Indian roads are notoriously famous for being the worst in the world, but the monsoons bring an added element of danger as well. One of the best things to do when you see the rain pouring down is to avoid driving until it stops. However, if you have to, here are some tips to help you drive better in the rain.
Whether you’re a professional or a novice, rain can be quite intimidating for drivers of any kind. If you have ever experienced or even witnessed a vehicle skid on a wet road, you would know that it is one of the worst feelings ever. The fact that you no longer have control of the vehicle should be enough to keep you off the roads during the monsoon. If you have the option of waiting it out, you should always choose that overtaking your chances in the rain. Being 15 minutes late to your uncle’s stand-up comedy debut is better than you ending up in hospital (is it really though?).
Before you can head out, you should always check and double-check everything in your car so that you know they are in proper working condition. The last thing you want when driving in the rain is for your headlights to suddenly turn off because there was a leak in the plastic and water damaged the electronics. Check all the equipment you might need to make your driving experience a little more convenient. Your tyres should be the first thing you check. See if the tread on your tyres is good enough to take on the slick roads. Try and stick a Rs. 10 coin into the tread and if you cannot see the golden ring, you’re fine. If not, you need to get new tyres as soon as possible. Some of the other important components you have to check are the headlights, windshield wipers, taillights, fog lights, turn signals/indicators, AC, and the horn.
If you have been in a moving car in heavy rain, you would know how hard it is to see anything a few meters ahead of you. Most of the time, heavy rain is accompanied by mist or fog. This makes it even harder for drivers to see. In such cases, it is vital for you to get your headlights on so that you can see better and keep yourself and others safe. The latest cars come with powerful LED headlights and fog lights that illuminate a larger area in front of the car. Keeping the headlights on when driving in the rain not only allows you to have better visibility but also lets other drivers and pedestrians know that you are there. The majority of accidents in India during the monsoon are caused by a lack of proper visibility and keeping your headlights and fog lights on significantly reduces that danger.
We just spoke about how visibility outside of the car is so important when driving in the rain but visibility from inside of the vehicle is just as important. What does this mean? For most people, it means using your windshield wipers effectively during a heavy shower. When rain continues to flow onto the windshield, it can distort a driver’s view and make things seem further away than they really are. The windshield wipers are there to make driving in the rain easier and safer by removing excess moisture from the glass so that you can have perfect visibility at all times. Most of the cars today come with different speed options for different kinds of rain – from a light drizzle to a heavy downpour. For regions that experience a lot of hail or ice, using a cleaning product in the wiper fluid will help keep the windshield frost-free.
In India, rain comes with humidity, and with humidity comes fogging. Fogging is probably one of the worst things to experience when driving in the rain. Cars usually fog up because the outside temperature doesn’t match the inside of the vehicle. To ensure that your windows do not get fogged up while driving in the rain, you should turn on your AC and set the temperature to a point that matches the outside. This will stop the glass from fogging up and give you better visibility. If that still doesn’t work, you should pull your car over to the side of the road and ventilate it by opening a window or two. Many drivers in India choose to keep a towel or a cloth to wipe the windshield when it gets fogged up but that is not a permanent solution.
There are certain speed limits maintained by the government that apply to all states and cities. During the monsoon, that speed limit is reduced to keep drivers and pedestrians safe on the already slick roads. In wet conditions, your car needs to adjust to the lower traction and therefore takes longer to react to braking and turning. Keeping this in mind, it is advised that when you drive on wet roads, you need to lower your speed significantly. You should drive slower than the suggested speed limit to give your car the time it requires to react to an action.
Traction is something all drivers crave when driving on wet roads but it is harder to get the faster you drive. The same goes for when the brakes are pressed down harder than normal. It is quite dangerous to make sudden movements of a car that is traveling on a wet road as the reaction time of the vehicle is lowered. When you want to slow down and stop, it is advised that you release your foot off the accelerator and gently push down on the brake. If you jam your foot down on the brake pedal, the car is more likely to skid and you will lose control in an instant.
Social distancing in India is a luxury most people cannot find. When driving, you would not be surprised to find a vehicle a foot away from you on both sides, and a couple of inches away from your rear bumper. Normally, you should keep a car’s distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. However, when you’re driving in heavy rain, you have to give your car time to react, slow down, and completely come to a stop. The wet roads often cause the tyres to skid or slip before digging in and stopping so you have to keep your distance when driving in these conditions. You should at least have a 2-car space between you and the vehicle in front of you to ensure that you have enough time to stop.
Hydroplaning is one of the most common causes of accidents on wet roads. This is the phenomenon when a car skids because a film of water is caught between the tyres and the road stopping it from slowing down or coming to a halt. Hydroplaning occurs when a car drives into stagnant water such as puddles at a higher speed than required. When you are driving in these conditions, it is best to slow down before you drive through the puddles or avoid them completely.
If you even find yourself in a situation where your car is hydroplaning during a rain shower, try and stay calm firstly because the more nervous you get, the more you will lose control of the car. Next, you should immediately take your foot off the accelerator pedal. This will help slow the car down. You should then steer the car in the direction you want to go to get the wheels to break out of hydroplaning and react to your actions. In the event of hydroplaning, you should never slam the brakes or make sharp and sudden turns. That will cause the car to skid even more.
With these helpful tips and tricks, you should be able to drive safely in the rain – so long as you follow and implement them. It is very important to be aware of your surroundings when driving in the rain because no matter how careful you are, there could be other drivers that just don’t follow the rules. However, when you follow the rules, it eliminates a large percentage of the risk involved with driving in the rain, and these tips help you do just that. So, if you absolutely need to drive anywhere in the rain this monsoon, make sure to take these tips along with you and share them with friends and family to make more people aware.