Driving in Heavy Rain

We have all experienced the sudden unexpected downpour of rain.

The following tips may be helpful for drivers who have to face a heavy rainstorm on the road.

General Tips :

  • Increase the three- second rule to 5-6 seconds to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you.
  • If it is raining and the roads are wet, slow down. Take your foot off the accelerator and let your speed drop gradually.
  • Never use the brakes suddenly because this may cause the car to skid.
  • If you find that an oncoming vehicle is overtaking from the opposite direction and will not be likely to do it safely, slow down and be prepared to move to the left shoulder if necessary.
  • Only move towards the shoulder if you are able to see clearly 150m ahead of you. Keep in mind that pedestrians may be walking on the shoulder to avoid the mud next to the surface of the road.
  • Beware of oil patches. Don't panic. Do not jam on your brakes, just steer through. In most cases, the patches will be small.
  • Always change to a lower gear before you take a bend, especially a sharp bend. Your speed should be at its slowest as you enter the bend and both your hands should be on the steering wheel. This slow in/fast out technique gives you most control when driving around a bend.
  • Increase your space cushion by doubling your normal following distance from 3 seconds to 6 seconds.
  • Turn on your headlights.
  • Be careful of other vehicles to the rear and in blind spot areas as they are especially difficult to see through rain-spattered windows.
  • Use your low-beam headlights to see and be seen. Wait a short time after the rain begins before using your windshield wipers because the blades may smear.
  • Be extra careful during the first half hour after rain begins. Grime and oil on the road surface mix with water to make the road slippery.

Safe driving techniques in heavy rain

We have since the development of this page given more attention to driving in heavy rain and other adverse weather conditions. This can be found on a page titled Safe driving in bad weather conditions

In this section we cover aspects such as:

  • Adverse weather conditions and unique challenges on the road
  • Aspects to consider before driving in bad weather
  • Driver Fitness and Safe Driving in Adverse Weather Conditions
  • Vehicle Fitness and Driving in Bad Weather
  • Emergency preparedness for bad weather driving
  • Safe Driving techniques in bad weather
  • What to do in an emergency to avoid a crash

Different road users and safety in heavy rains

Different road users and safety in heavy rains

It is not only our motorists and truck drivers who are exposed to these conditions and the unique threats they present. We also need to be aware of the safety of the more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and bikers when having to travel on the road in heavy rains.

Information on pedestrian safety in heavy rains and flood conditions can be found at a page titled:

Road Safety and Flood Risks for Drivers and Pedestrians

For information on bikers/ motorcyclists and the safety techniques required when riding in the rain and bad weather also visit:

Motorcycle Safety and Riding in Bad Weather

Vehicle fitness and Safety in Heavy Rains

We would also like to emphasize the importance of vehicle fitness when having to drive in heavy rains. The driver should be able to respond swiftly to any emergency situations. This will require in bad weather a special focus on both visibility and the ability to bring the vehicle to a sudden stop.

With this in mind, we need to ensure that our windscreen and wiper blades are in good condition and that our lights are in effective working condition. This becomes even more important when driving at night in the heavy rains.

We also need to ensure that our brakes and shocks are able to respond to the required pressure applied to bring the vehicle to a sudden stop!

Also view:

Wet Weather Conditions and Safe, Defensive Driving

Windscreen Wiper Blades and Safe Driving

Brakes/ Braking and Road Safety

Safe Driving in Strong Winds