Snapshot – Driving on Indian roads is tricky even in the best of times. When the skies open up, driving on Indian roads can get downright treacherous. While we’ve already detailed the car care tips you need to follow before the monsoons kick in, here are a bunch of driving tips to make sure that you have a safe driving experience this rainy season.
The first cardinal rule for driving in the rains is to simply slow down. Since rains impede visibility, slowing down is mandatory as a slower speed will give you more time to reach to traffic situations and obstacles. Also, braking distances are higher when the roads are wet. A slower speed means lower braking distance and often the distance between life and death. Suppose you do about 80 Kph when conditions are dry, slowing to 40-50 Kph in wet conditions is advisable. If the rain is too heavy for safe motoring, just pull over at a safe place and switch on your hazard lamps.
Maintain larger distances between vehicles
Since braking distances greatly increase on wet roads, maintaining double the distance between you and the vehicle ahead of your car is advisable. Wet roads are notorious for accidents due to pile ups as motorists – indifferent to the dangerous driving conditions during monsoons – often over speed and tail gate other vehicles to beat traffic lights and other traffic.
Use air conditioning and the defogger frequently to maintain a clear windshield view
Visibility is everything for a safe motoring experience. Monsoons result in car windshields fogging up and reducing visibility drastically. Using the air conditioner and defogger frequently will ensure that your car’s windshields don’t fog up and reduce your visibility. Also, keeping the wipers on at a low speed even during mild drizzles will ensure that your visibility is always top notch.
Turn on headlamps/foglamps when the rains begin
Turning on headlamps/foglamps when the rains begin, even during the day, is an important step that will allow other motorists to spot you. Often, accidents happen due to the other motorists not spotting a vehicle. Turning on your headlamps/foglamps during the day will also activate the tail lamps and indicate to vehicles following you. Also, use hazard lights only when you are stationary. Using hazard lights during motion only serves to confuse other drivers.
Mentally map out speed breakers, potholes and other obstacles
This tip is mainly meant for your regular commute. Potholes, speed breakers and other road imperfections are common on most drivers’ commutes. Mapping them out mentally will give you the chance to avoid them altogether or drive slower through them, as most of these obstacles may not be visible in heavy rain or on water logged roads. Also, avoid driving on the extreme left or extreme right of the road as the extremities often have debris left behind, and this debris are usually not very visible during rainy conditions.
Do not overtake heavy vehicles through puddles
Try to avoid driving through puddles as much as possible, especially on unknown roads where dangers may lurk under these seemingly innocuous puddles. If you don’t have an option, slow down to the maximum possible extent while driving through puddles. Also, do not overtake heavy vehicles through a puddle as these vehicles often splash a large amount of water onto the windshields of lower slung cars reducing visibility drastically. It is safe to maintain an extra large lateral gap between the heavy vehicle you intend to overtake during the rains.
Be considerate towards pedestrians and other road users
Exposed to the elements, pedestrians and two wheeler riders are a harried lot during the rains. While passing two wheelers or pedestrians try to avoid driving too fast across as doing so is likely to splash water and muck on them. Also, drive slowly while approaching bridges and other shelters such as bus stands and large trees, under where pedestrians and two wheeler riders are likely to have taken refuge.
Exercise extreme caution while driving through waterlogged roads
Driving through water logged roads can cause your car’s exhaust to suck in water. Water sucked in thus will damage the engine by causing a hydrostatic lock. Expensive engine repairs will be the result. Try to avoid water logged roads as much as possible, even it means an extra 10 kilometers added to your commute. A liter of fuel and an hour extra is definitely cheaper than an engine rebuild, at least for most motorists out there. Pay extra attention to bottom of flyovers and underpasses, where rain water usually tends to accumulate.
Driving through water logged roads
If you cannot avoid a water logged road, ensure that you drive in the lower possible gear with a steady foot on the throttle. But before that, you have to make sure that the water isn’t too deep. A steady foot on the throttle will repel water entering your exhaust and the key is to maintain a steady momentum on water logged roads. Also, ensure that you do not follow a bus or a heavy vehicle, or drive alongside such vehicles through a water logged road. Doing so can have catastrophic consequences for your car’s engine as buses and trucks often displace a large body of ater, creating a wave of sorts. Waves like these can deepen the water level significantly and turn relatively harmless puddles into engine breakers.
Do not park under trees or beside electric poles
We’ve covered enough about driving in the rains. Now, let’s get down to parking. Squally winds and heavy rain cause trees and electric poles to fall. Also branches getting separated from trees and high tension wires snapping is a common sight during monsoons. Therefore, avoid parking under a tree or beside an electric pole. An open area or covered parking is your best for parking during the rains.
Image courtesy FakeHustle