Driving in Rains

Driving in bad weather can be scary and very dangerous. It’s best to avoid it altogether, but if you happen to find yourself in a heavy rainfall, these tips will help.

How does the weather affect your driving? Bad weather affects your ability to see, which is very limited in adverse weather conditions such as rainfall and dust. Not only does cold weather and precipitation can change your driving pattern. You also should be aware of high temperatures, sun glare and high winds.  Here are some tips to guide you while driving in Uganda during times of bad weather;

Heavy Rain

  • If you need your windshield wipers on, you also need your headlights on in rain. It will help your visibility and also help other drivers to see you.
  • Double or triple the space you normally leave between you and the next car in wet weather. You’ll need even more space to stop on slick roads.
  • If it’s raining too hard for you to see, try to find a safe place to pull over until the worst of the rain has gone.
  • Don’t use cruise control in wet or slippery conditions. The cruise control may apply more throttle if the drive wheels start to slip.
  • If you see a tornado coming your way, find shelter as fast as you can. If that’s not possible, get out of the car and find a ditch to take cover in, protecting your head and neck.
  • Avoid tailgating.
  • On the highway, leave about 100 yards about the length of a football field between you and the car ahead of you to give you plenty of room to stop in case that person brakes suddenly. Still, it’s close enough to use his headlights to see what’s up ahead.

Slow down by at least 5 or 10 miles an hour. At certain speeds, your car can hydroplane, lifting off the ground, and you will be driving on a layer of water. If that happens, don’t panic; just slow down until the car feels normal again.

  • Avoid driving through flooded areas. It will be difficult to gauge the water’s depth. This is dangerous in itself. And if water gets sucked into the air-intake valve and then the engine, the car will probably shut off.
  • Feather the brakes after you’ve driven through a puddle. And make sure you take your foot off the gas. This creates heat and friction, which will help dry the brakes.
  • Don’t break during a turn.

To avoid a spinout, gradually start turning the steering wheel and feathering the brakes lightly before the curve. Then coast through the turn with your foot off the brake and off the gas, so as not to gain speed. When you have your foot on the brake, the wheels stop turning. That’s when the car loses control and goes in any direction that momentum decides to take it, like a toboggan.

  • Turn into a skid.

Remain calm, take your foot off the brake and the gas pedals, and turn the car in the direction the car is skidding. For example, if you’re sliding to the left, gently turn the steering wheel to the left. This cancels out the skid. The car corrects itself and goes straight. If all else fails and you have the option to do so safely.

If You are driving in foggy conditions especially up country or national parks.

  • Turn on the fog lights.

There’s usually a switch on the dashboard or on the same lever that controls the turn signal, but you can also use low beams in a pinch. The lights are yellow, which cuts through fog better than white lamps do, and they’re low to the ground so the beams illuminate the road well.

  • Pump the brakes before entering a fog bank. This alerts the cars trailing you to back off. If you wait to apply the brakes until you’re in the thick of it, you could get hit from behind.
  • Slow down before a hill. Be extra-cautious driving over the crest of a hill because you won’t be able to see if there’s another car stopped there.

How to prepare yourself for bad weather

  • Inspect windshield wipers.

Replace any that have cracked rubber.

Clean headlight covers. When they sit in the sun, they eventually turn yellow and cloudy, and that cuts the amount of light coming from your headlights.

  • Check tire treads.
  • Stock an emergency kit. Include road flares, a blanket, a shovel, a flashlight, jumper cables, a tow rope, an air compressor, duct tape, and an ice scraper. You may also want to add dry food, water, toilet paper, and warm clothes.
  • Listen and obey national and local radio/TV announcements and warnings regarding road and weather conditions for your journey.
  • Do not attempt to cross at a river crossing where the road has been closed – no matter how big your vehicle is!
  • Buckle Up! – Be sure you and your passengers wear seatbelts at all times. Not only is it the law, it can also save lives, especially when driving in bad weather.
  • Look out for signs warning of adverse conditions – including fixed signs, such as those warning of exposure to high-winds, and variable message signs on motorways that warn of fog, snow and which may display temporary slower speed limits.
  • In the event of journeys of a necessary nature inform family/friends of your estimated time of arrival and carry a mobile phone.
  • Ensure your mobile phone is charged and have a car charger ready – you may get stranded and need to call for help.
  • If you are to be prevented from driving further – be prepared to get off the road.
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