As much of Spain braces for heavy rain this weekend, it’s crucial for drivers to prepare for challenging road conditions. Rain not only impairs visibility but also extends braking distances, making driving more hazardous.
In this article, we have brought together some hints and tips provided by the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT) and Euromaster to help you stay safe while driving on wet roads.
Tyre care is key
Adhesiveness on wet roads is greatly affected by tyre condition. Worn-out or improperly inflated tyres are a major cause of accidents, responsible for up to 30% of winter incidents. Ensure your tyres have the correct tread depth (at least 1.6 millimetres) and maintain the recommended pressure to improve grip and reduce the risk of aquaplaning.
Beware of aquaplaning
Aquaplaning occurs when tyres cannot displace water on the road, leading to a loss of control. Factors like insufficient tread, low tyre pressure, excessive speed, or standing water can trigger this dangerous phenomenon. In the event of aquaplaning, maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel, avoid sudden braking, and gently correct your course when traction is regained.
Increase stopping distances
Slippery roads demand increased safety distances. Leave ample space between your vehicle and the one in front of you to account for extended braking distances, reducing the risk of rear-end collisions caused by wet road conditions.
Longer braking distances
Wet roads demand more time and distance to stop safely. Studies reveal that braking on wet asphalt at 90 km/h takes an extra 32 metres compared to dry conditions. Therefore, be sure to increase your following distance and reduce your speed accordingly.
Combat fogging up
Rain and cold often lead to fogged-up car windows. Combat this issue by using a combination of air conditioning and heating directed toward the windshield. This method will help clear fogged windows efficiently. Furthermore, ensure that the air vents are open for optimal results.
Treacherous leaves on the road
Rain can turn fallen leaves into a deceptive hazard. These seemingly harmless autumn carpets on the road can reduce grip, causing your vehicle to behave as if it’s on ice. Therefore, exercise caution and adapt your driving style when encountering wet leaves on the road.
When it rains or clouds darken the sky, activate your vehicle’s headlights. Even cars equipped with automatic lighting systems may need manual intervention to ensure visibility. Modern cars often have powerful daytime running lights, which can inadvertently lead to a lack of proper lighting in low-visibility conditions, potentially resulting in fines.
Prioritise smooth maneuvers
Regardless of the season, smooth driving is the key to a relaxed and safe journey. However, especially during wet conditions, gentle acceleration and smooth maneuvers are essential to prevent loss of control of the vehicle. Avoid sudden movements or intense braking.
Adjust your speed
Driving at a reduced speed in rainy conditions is not only logical but also the most sensible choice. Adapt your speed to the specific circumstances of the moment, the road type, and its condition. Remember that your speed should always allow your car to stop safely in unexpected situations.
Be extra careful and pay attention to road markings. The traction capacity of the vehicle decreases on painted sections of the road. Consequently, a zebra crossing, for example could make you lose control of the vehicle for a few seconds.
By following these guidelines, you can navigate Spain’s rainy roads with confidence and reduce the risk of accidents. If you live in areas where rain or snow is more common, winter tyres may be a good option at this time of year when the weather is starting to change.
Stay informed, be prepared, and prioritise safety during adverse weather conditions. Your cautious approach will not only protect you but also contribute to safer roads for everyone.