If you ask any experienced driver if they preferred to drive in the summer or during the monsoons, their answer will be the former. Driving during the monsoon season is not only a lot more difficult, but it can also turn out to be a lot more dangerous. With limited visibility, slick, wet surfaces, and hidden potholes, the road you travel on every day can quickly become something unfamiliar. So, in order to stay safe while you drive through heavy rain, here are some awesome tips that you can use and share with friends and family.
While you might not require a pre-drive check in the summer, it is almost mandatory during the monsoons. Sometimes it takes the smallest thing going wrong to leave you stranded on a flooded street. Always check the tyres, headlights, fog lights, taillights, windshield wipers, brakes, and horns before you leave. If anything doesn’t seem right, fix it (if you can), get someone to fix it (if they’re available), or just wait it out till the rain slows down or stops completely. Checking your car before you head out in the rain can be the difference between you making it to your destination safe and dry or getting caught in the rain trying to change a flat tyre.
Although most weather applications and news outlets are not always 100% reliable, it is good to keep yourself updated on the forecast for the day. Because rain is extremely unpredictable, it might look bright and sunny when you’re getting into your car, and suddenly come down to a heavy shower a few meters into your drive. Check the hourly forecast to know whether there is any chance of heavy rain and at what time. Knowing this will allow you to take precautions before heading out. Most of the weather applications can also tell you which roads to avoid and this is a feature that should be considered when driving in the rain.
One of the worst things you could do when opting to drive in the rain is to forget to have your car fueled up. Picture yourself driving down a deserted stretch of road and suddenly your car shuts down because you’re out of fuel. With no sign of a gas station and the rain pouring down, you have no option but to sit and wait it out in your car – who knows for how long. That is why it is so important to either visit a gas station as soon as you find one or have excess fuel stored in containers.
Even if you have decades of driving experience, wet, slippery roads are extremely unpredictable and can leave you in a lot of danger if not taken seriously. On wet roads, your car responds to inputs a lot slower so, when you jam down on the brakes, you have to give the car some time to actually come to a stop. However, you should never jam the brakes on a wet road as it could easily cause the car to skid. When changing gears as well, you have to be gentle and smooth so that the car has enough time to respond. Most importantly though, you should always keep enough distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you to allow your car to slow down and stop in time.
It is the tyres on a car that actually have the most important job when driving – especially when you choose to drive in the rain. When you drive in the rain, your tyres need to be in excellent condition. Wet roads are like kryptonite for rubber tyres and you should take that into consideration before you can begin your drive. Always check the tyre tread on all four tyres to see whether they will be able to manage on the wet, slippery roads. If the tread on your tyres is lower than 1.6mm, it might be a good time to get new tyres. You can also push a one Rupee coin into the tread to see how far it goes. If it barely sinks in, you should get new tyres.
Staying on the topic of tyres, the biggest reason behind accidents on wet roads is poorly treaded tyres. When your tyres don’t have proper treading, there is no way for water/rain to escape and therefore it collects under the rubber. The more the water collects, the higher the chances are of the car skidding and losing control. This phenomenon is called aquaplaning or hydroplaning. You should always do a check of the tyres before the monsoon arrives so that you can always be prepared.
Great visibility is something you need when driving a vehicle. During the monsoon, visibility levels are significantly reduced which can ultimately be dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. When the rain pours down unrelentingly, it becomes very difficult to see even a few meters ahead of you. Light is one of the most effective ways to help you see better and also let other vehicles know that you’re around. Check to see that your vehicle’s headlights are clear and bright rather than frosted and yellow. If you have an older car, you should replace the lenses and the reflectors in the headlight so that you get the most out of your headlights. Always keep your headlights on low so that you don’t blind vehicles driving in the opposite direction.
With the previous tips in mind, we should all remember that low visibility and slippery roads can quite easily become a recipe for disaster. In the summer, when the sun is out and the roads are dry, there is about a 3-second rule for the distance you can maintain from the vehicle in front of you on the highway without risk. Quite obviously, that distance has to be increased by at least two-three times during the monsoon season. As discussed earlier, the more time the car has to slow down, the safer you will be on the road. So, even if the vehicle in front of you suddenly jams its brakes, you will have enough time to slow down and come to a stop before slamming into its bumper.
Regular rain and wind shouldn’t be much of a problem for most drivers but what happens when the monsoons throw everything they have, and the kitchen sink at you and your vehicle? This is when you have to tip your hat to Mother Nature and simply give in and stop yourself from going further. When the rain is too severe and the wipers cannot handle the amount of rain pouring down, your visibility is bound to go from 100 to 0 in a matter of seconds. To keep yourself and the other people on the road safe, you should pull your car over to the side of the road and wait till the rain subsides or stops completely. However, when you do pull over, make sure you are not on a highway and always keep your hazard lights on so other vehicles know that you have stopped. These simple steps can prevent a major accident.
Being unpredictable is what the monsoons in India are all about. One minute you’re looking at bright blue skies and the next, you’re running to find shelter from the battering rain. To stay one step ahead, it is good to have an emergency kit in your vehicle in case your car breaks down or you’re trapped in a flooded car. Carry essentials and tools to help you get yourself out and into safety quickly. Here are some items you should have in your car at all times during the monsoon:
Even when making a turn, brake gently and slow the vehicle down with smooth turns of the steering wheel rather than abrupt ones. But, if you still find that your car is skidding, you should always stay calm and steer into the skid. All this means is that you take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the vehicle to go. Also, never use the brake in this situation as it will only cause the car to skid even more. However, if the car does have ABS, you can brake firmly as you steer in the direction you want to go.
Oil is something that is constantly being deposited on roads by vehicles and while the amount is relatively small, it can be quite harmful when the monsoons come around. We have all seen the rainbow of colours floating on puddles before, haven’t we? These spots are usually found around intersections and around corners of roads. After the first rains, these oily patches are the most dangerous as they haven’t had the time to mix with the water and float to the top where tyres meet the road. If you are driving fast and happen to drive over a patch of this oily layer, the car is more likely to skid.
Most automobile experts will tell you to avoid driving through puddles or areas where rain has collected. Driving through deep water can cause the electrical components in your car to short circuit and get permanently damaged. There is a rule that says if the water is above the door sills, you should either drive around it or just find another route. If you do know that the water is safe enough to drive through, you should do it slowly and always keep the clutch revving to prevent water from entering the engine through the exhaust pipe.
Fogged-up windscreens and windows are a major problem when driving in the monsoons and can also be quite dangerous if you’re driving on a highway. To keep your windows and windshield from fogging up, you should turn the air conditioning on. This keeps the glass clear and lets you see what’s ahead of you at all times. Otherwise, you will have to constantly wipe the windscreen with a cloth manually and that could end up with you getting soaking wet. A good home remedy for defogging is to use a cut potato to clean the surface and allowing it to dry. This apparently reduces condensation and stops the glass from fogging up.
Most of us think of the monsoons as a few weeks of rain and cool winds, but it can be quite dangerous for those people who choose to drive their vehicles during this time. Things can change in the blink of an eye and you should always be prepared. When you decide to drive in the rain, especially if it is a heavy downpour, you should be concentrating on the road in front of you. Try and turn the music or radio off, don’t answer any calls (even hands-free), and ask your passengers, if any, to stay quiet till you are at your destination or out of the heavy rainfall.
If you have any plans of driving this monsoon, these tips will not only help you reach your destination safely, but they can also prevent you from totaling your car and spending huge amounts of cash for its repair. These above-mentioned tips have been used and approved by some of the most experienced drivers in the country and will surely help you get through the monsoon season easily.