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5 things you should know about driving in the rain

5 things you should know about driving in the rain

Driving in the rain can be a stressful and dangerous experience, or fun and safe one. The choice is yours.

Christopher Ng Photo

Christopher Ng

19 Nov 2018

It is that time of the year when the day is getting shorter and the weather is becoming wetter. Although this is a yearly event, many Malaysians are still not taking the necessary precautions when driving in the rain and on wet roads, making it a dangerous and stressful to be behind the wheel.

But it does not have to be that way. Here are five things you should know before heading out in the rain.

1. The wider the tyres, the easier to aquaplane

Contrary to what others might think, wide tyres have a higher chance of aquaplaning than narrow tyres. Due to the larger width of the tyres, water has more distance to travel away from centre of the tyre.

It gets worse when you drive through standing water at high speeds the volume of water is too much for the tyre to dissipate quickly. Consequently, water gets forced under the tyre instead of flowing through the sides, making the car ‘float’ above the tarmac just for a second. When that happens, you and your vehicle become passengers until grip is found or you crash.

Remember, while they are heroes of grip and handling on dry roads, a wide tyre’s kryptonite is a wet road.

2. Bald tyres are absolutely useless in the wet

No tyre — wide or narrow — will save you from losing grip when your rubbers are worn out. The diminished tyre threads cannot channel water properly, which will make aquaplaning significantly easier. If your tyres look anything like the above picture, it's time to change them.

3. No tailgating! Braking distance is increased wet roads

Tailgating, an act that is dangerous, becomes more so because braking distance is increases significantly on wet roads. More often than not, you'll need another 10 to 20 meters, depending on velocity, to bring your car to a full stop. Not all knows this, leaving many drivers to underestimate the braking distance, resulting in car pile-ups on the highway. 

Although latest tyres do improve wet-braking distance, it will never be as quick as braking in dry conditions.

4. Don’t drive with the hazard lights blinking

While it may be that many Malaysians have stopped practising this, there are some that still do. Driving with the hazard lights blinking in low visibility situations is actually dangerous. By turning on the hazard lights, you have eliminated the only tool available to let other drivers know that you want to turn or merge into a lane. The sudden movement may spook the other driver, causing him to execute evasive manoeuvres that might lead to a crash with another vehicle. 

The only time when it is alright to flash the hazards is during roadside emergency situations. Other than that, it's a big no-no.

5. Keep calm, be considerate and drive on

The key to driving safely in the wet is to move with confidence. As the weather worsens and you want to slow down, indicate that you want to switch to the middle or left lanes. Keep the right lane free for others who may be in an actual rush. If visibility worsens and you not as confident as before, pull into the nearest rest stop or petrol station and wait it out. Have an ice cream, relax.

Tthere's no doubt that you will encounter drivers that will stress you out. In times like these, there is no point in ‘teaching him a lesson’. Let him pass because your main task is to arrive at your destination in one piece — you and your car

Story by CT