This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but just as night follows day, today (or in the near future) rain will inevitably pour from the ‘long white clouds’ above, and onto a road near you. So why do NZ drivers seem to lose their minds at the sight of it making our roads clog up quicker than the drains below? Poor wet weather driving is this week’s Tarmac Tantrum.
Travelling across Auckland is ‘difficult’ and time consuming at the best of times, however, add even a touch of precipitation and seriously it becomes soul destroying. Traffic is at a standstill, bumps and accidents are aplenty, frustrations run high and even the more basic of road rules are ‘forgotten’. I know all this because I’ve just been caught up in it.
Of course rain reduces visibility, reduces grip and increases stopping distances significantly, but it’s more than that, for some, this means fear drives what they do, which leads to unpredictability and seemingly, a loss of common sense.
‘Drive to the conditions’ is a term that’s brandished around a lot and that should sum it up, wet weather does require addition thought and maybe more concentration (you should be concentrating anyway), so check your speed, widen your distance and you should be good – in other words, don’t ‘kin panic, it’s rain.
Admittedly, most people are never properly taught how to handle the rain or other poor conditions, but for those still unsure, (or haven’t had enough training/experience), the NZ transport agency has a few words of advice, including:
Reduce speed – on a wet road, driving at the speed limit could be too fast for the conditions. You can lose control very easily in wet weather, especially if you have to brake suddenly, so slow down.
Adjust your driving – Wet, frosty or icy roads can be very slippery. You need to increase your following distance because it takes longer to stop on a slippery surface. You should increase your following distance from four seconds to six seconds. Roads are extra slippery just after the rain commences, and will remain so until the rain has washed any oil off the road.
Brake carefully – If your vehicle has anti-lock braking system (ABS) brakes, never pump the brakes in an emergency. Keep the pedal pressed down hard and steer out of trouble. Don’t become over-confident in your driving just because your vehicle has ABS brakes.
If your vehicle doesn’t have ABS brakes, don’t brake too hard when it is wet. You may go into a dangerous skid. Instead, pump the brakes gently. If your vehicle has auxiliary brakes read the instructions. Don’t operate them at full power in slippery conditions.
Watch your visibility – Visibility (how far you can see) can be seriously reduced by rain, snow or fog. This can increase the risk of a crash. To improve visibility, keep all windows and mirrors clean. Don’t let windows fog up – turn on the demister or open a window.
And lastly – Check your vehicle – Effective brakes, tyres, windscreen wipers, lights and steering are even more crucial in wet weather. Check your vehicle regularly to make sure they are all in good condition (this should be a given whatever the weather).
I would add, in more than light rain, switch on your headlights (but as per last week’s rant – DIPPED), ideally have an aquaphobic spray on your windscreen, and above all – relax, remember it’s just ‘kin rain! Oh and just quietly, enjoy the puddles.