Now that we hare done with how to make your car ready for the monsoon, there are also a few dos and dont’s for driving the vehicle in the rains. Yes, there has to be precaution in the way one drives around in the rain. Especially when the first drizzle happens, there is a lot of muck as well as oil on the road. It takes at least a couple of good showers to get the roads back to being just wet rather than being wet and filled with grime. So, without further ado, here are the few driving tips one may implement while driving around in the rain.
Keep your headlights on
Recently the Indian government has made it mandatory for all new motorcycles as well as scooters to have their headlights on. For this very reason, the government made sure that there is no headlight switch and the lamps stay on all the time. For cars, that may be a tough order yet but nonetheless, while driving in the rain, one should ensure that they have the headlamps on. It is all about visibility. If the motorcycle behind can see that there is a car ahead in the torrential rain, he will try and avoid it. Otherwise, he is going to crash straight into you. If your car is equipped with fog lamps, now is the right time to switch them on. These have wider spread than the headlight and can be visible even from a distance. Just remember to switch off the lamps once you are done driving.
It seems most of us are simply waiting for the monsoon to come in to use the hazard lamps. The first drop of rain and you see a million hazards on the expressway. Remember. They are called hazards for a reason. They are to be used when the vehicle is parked on the side of a busy road, has broken down in the middle of a road or is being towed. They are there to make sure that people know that there is some issue with this car or its broken down and go around the car rather than into it. If you put on hazards while driving, how will people know which direction are you going to move to cos all the four indicators are on at the same time. This may result in pile-up. Instead use headlights. If you’re travelling in a cab, make sure you inform this to the cabbie as well.
It is a golden rule that the slower you’re, the more effective will be your response time to brake. This doesn’t mean you drive at 10kmph and block the entire lane. Instead let the tyres communicate with the road conditions and then up your speed gradually. This will also let you know how much traction is available on a wet road. Always indicate a bit ahead than you usually would in the rains. Don’t cut lanes. Observe the lane discipline and if there is an obstacle ahead in the form of a broken-down car or cordoned off area, indicate, look around and move onto the next lane.
Sharp braking during the rains will lead to skidding and worse, a pile-up (multiple cars dashing into each other). Brake gradually. Maintain the three second rule between you and the car ahead. This is how you do it. If there is some distance between you and the car ahead, then fix your eyes on a certain point by the side of the road. It may be a lamp post, a signboard or even a tree. After the first car has passed, see in how many seconds you cross the same target. If you do it within a second, then you’re really close to the car ahead and if he/she brakes suddenly, you will bump right into them. If there is a three second gap, you relatively have ample of time to brake safely.
Driving through puddles
In the rain, courtesy of shoddy repair work or none at all, the roads turn into craters carrying water in them. It is dangerous to drive around in deep water as one may not be sure of how deep the crater may be and it will end up damaging both the car and also injure the occupants. For this reason, always drive where the water may seem at its lowest point. If there is a car or other vehicle going ahead, wait till it has crossed the entire stretch before you venture out. This will give you an understanding of how deep the puddle may be or where exactly you need to place your tyres. Tailgating or following another vehicle very closely will do you no favours. If the vehicle stalls, then you are at the risk of letting water into your engine through the tail pipe. Drive steadily in deep water after first observing whether or not it will harm the vehicle. You’re the best judge to know the ground clearance of your car. Avoid lifting off the accelerator or changing gears when in deep water. This will allow the water to enter the engine and cause damage to it. Drive in first gear with the revs held high.
If your car is surrounded by water and the level has gone above the tail pipe, don’t attempt to start the vehicle. You will be doing more damage to the engine by starting it at that point. Call for the roadside assistance number given and get the car towed to the nearest service station.
In the rains, it is advisable to keep some drinking water as well as eatables inside the car. Who knows if you have to spend a few hours in the car waiting for the traffic or rain abate. It is recommended that you keep the fuel topped up at all the time.
Enjoy the monsoon folks!