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Driving in the rain.

It is the rainy season here in Nigeria, and we still go about our daily activities and businesses, so driving in the rain could become imminent. Here are a few tips for driving safely in the rain.

Try to plan ahead: This might seem easier said than done, but the best advice for driving in heavy rain is to simply avoid it if possible. Only take necessary journeys, and put in mind the roads are usually congested in the rain. You might end up spending hours as against minutes en-route your destination. Heavy traffic takes a toll on the engine.

Slow down: Visibility is very poor, reaction times are slower, and the slick/slippery road means that it can be harder to stop. Light shower of rain can make it more dangerous than heavy rain, because with light shower the road becomes slicker than normal due to pollutants such as diesel and motor oil, you should drive below the speed limit by 20kmph - 30kmph, below. This will give you ample time to brake and give you greater control over the vehicle itself.

Look ahead, brake earlier: In heavy rain it is harder to see what is around you, and it will be harder to slow down in case of emergency. This means that it is important to look well ahead and around as you drive, so that you can anticipate oncoming hazards. Furthermore, you need to brake earlier and alot more gradually than you would normally do on a dry road. This is a good safe driving technique but in the rain it is crucial. Braking late can cause skidding, hydroplaning, and lead to potential accidents.

Turn on your headlights: Even though it might not be the night time, it is safer to have your lights on when it is raining. It is often darker, meaning poor visibility. Turning on your headlights makes it easier for you to see, and easier for others on the road to see you. It is important to avoid the high beam in the rain.

Don't use cruise control: The last thing you want when driving in the rain is to give the computer complete control of your acceleration, speed and braking, be in total control of your vehicle as the computer will not be fully aware of the hazards and emergencies that could happen.

Keep your car maintained: Maintenance of the vehicle includes checking the wiper blades, (if you turn on the wiper, and the blades do not clear the screen of water in two strokes, the blades need replacement).

Make sure your headlamps are working, your brakes are working effectively, brake lights and indicator lights working well too, and the thread on your tires is within safety limit, bald tyres are like surfboards on a wet road.

Dry the brakes: Wet roads mean wet brakes, and the four wheel discs on most cars can be coated with water just when you need them most. Make sure to scrub the water off the rotors by touching the pads to the rotors immediately after driving through flood. Just tap on the break to get the water off and that gets them ready for the next use.

These are tips for driving in the rain.

But what about hydroplaning? well, it can be very scary and life threatening, however, if you are wondering what to do. Here it goes ; do not apply the brake, ease your foot of the accelerator pedal , turn your steering wheel to the direction of the skid, as you recover control turn to face the right direction, finally, if you need to brake do so slowly using a light pumping action, if you don't have anti-lock braking system, if you do, the computer will help you with that as you depress the pedal. It's important to know your vehicle and know if your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock braking system.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:May 25, 2018
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