Storms on the Rise: When is it Unsafe to Drive?

Jack Dreyer | Wednesday 6th March 2024 2:00pm

Tyres driving on a wet road with water splashing.

Sometimes, looking at the weather outside the window isnít enough to go on - and a red exclamation mark on the weather report doesnít change the fact that you have to get to work or drop the kids off at school. There are some key preparations you can make, as well as checks and protocols to ensure your journey is as safe as possible.

In this blog, we will go over the preparations you can make, how storms can damage your car, and the dangers which can arise from storms, especially as they seem more frequent each year.

Is it safe to drive in a storm?

You should always check weather reports to see how severe a storm is. Different areas of the country will be affected differently depending on the quality of the roads, severity of the storm, remoteness, and terrain. If you live in an area which frequently floods, or somewhere with muddy and/or steep roads, then you will likely have far more problems to face than those who live in a well-connected city with access to services.

Regardless of where you live, however, wet weather in general can present plenty of problems to a driver. Now, add high wind speeds, excessive downpours, cold, and prolonged weather damage to infrastructure and youíve got quite the collection of nasty threats to both driver and car. Make sure to keep up to date with any news of damage to infrastructure, services or communications.

The following hazards are just a handful of factors that drivers planning to travel in a storm should account for:

Vehicles driving on a rainy motorway.

Reduced visibility

It might seem obvious that heavy rain reduces visibility. However, other things to consider are heavy splashes from other vehicles and mud being kicked up from your own and other driverís wheels. Windscreen wipers may struggle to remove these kinds of thicker residues from windows or can spread them across the screen making it hard to see the road ahead.

Make sure to check your windscreen wipers to see if they are working properly. Inspect the blades, give them a test run, and make sure there is screenwash in the reservoir. You may not feel youíll need it if itís wet, but mud and other residues may not be removed without it. You should also check your wipers regularly for signs that they may be broken, such as juddering, streaks, or reduced contact with the screen, and get them replaced. Also, make sure to turn on your dipped headlights and to make sure they are working properly.

Puddles and potholes

After prolonged rain, potholes can quickly fill with water or roads can be completely covered in a layer of water which obscures the depth of the holes. Driving through these too quickly can cause punctures, bulged tyres and wheel damage. Potholes can be damaging at the best of times, but driving at speed because you cannot see them can exasperate the damage.

If you notice any damage to your tyres or suspension you will need to get it fixed as soon as possible and you should not travel in wet weather if you suspect your wheels may be overly worn.

Slipping and stopping

Wet surfaces, especially paired with ice, can be a danger to you, other drivers, other road users, and pedestrians. Stopping distance drastically increases when there is not enough grip on the road. Unfortunately, this isnít just down to you as a driver but relies upon how other drivers act too, and, if other road users are going too fast or recklessly, there is an increased chance of collisions and other accidents. Corners, stops, junctions, hills, bridges, and other more tricky areas on the road are hot spots for accidents.

Itís important to make sure you have appropriate tread depth and to check your tyre health and age. Different types of tyres are better suited for different types of weather and depending on the time of year and your location you may need to consider getting a different set of tyres.

Flooding and breaking down

Areas which are prone to flooding can have indicators which inform you as to how deep the water usually is. However, during unprecedented rainfall and storms, these may be inaccurate and many areas which donít usually flood wonít have any markers at all. Driving too fast through high water can cause trouble for other road users and may cause damage to your car. On top of this, there is a chance that your engine could become waterlogged which can lead to engine failure.

Trees collapsed on the road.

Falling objects and roadblocks

We all hear stories on the news, and many of us have experienced falling trees and even structures damaging roads, rails, and houses during poor weather. Of course, we donít have control over bad timing, and the idea of a tree falling on us as weíre driving might seem unlikely ó but it can happen.

More likely, however, is that roads can become blocked, power can cut out, services may be reduced, and communications become difficult. At best, these kinds of problems from high wind can delay our journey or get us stuck in traffic, at worst they can be actively dangerous.

Itís always best to keep your phone charged with your charger in your car, to let people know the details of your journey, pack emergency essentials, and check the news and weather reports. Most navigation apps and devices have regular updates which can inform you of fallen debris and obstructions.

Lightning

We all know to not stand beneath a tree when lightning strikes, but not many people realise that being inside your car is the safest option during a storm. Cars have a metal frame and rubber wheels which allows lightning to pass through the vehicle without harming the passengers. So, make sure that the windows are up and all passengers are inside until the lightning passes.

General damage and breaks

Along with mud being kicked up, there are small stones, branches, and debris being thrown by wind and hidden bumps, rocks, holes, and other hard objects in the road. These kinds of obstacles can lead to cracked screens, punctured tyres, and even broken suspension.

Remember, keep a firm grip on the wheel, keep your distance from other vehicles and road users, and drive carefully and slowly.

Stay safe during stormy weather

Itís essential that every part of your vehicle is well maintained and kept in good working order - especially if you are planning to drive during stormy weather. Driving at lower gears is safer but does use more fuel, so make sure that youíve filled up before you go and follow a number of tricks to help save money on your fuel usage.

If you would like to check that your car is suitable for driving during storms and difficult weather, why not bring it along to your local Kwik Fit for a free Vehicle Safety Check?

In the meantime, be sure to service your vehicle regularly, replace any faulty parts, and keep on top of the latest driving advice with the Kwik Fit blog. For any further questions, get in touch with our friendly team today.


Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.




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