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Updated: June 30, 2012 10:22 IST

Your attitude should be in top gear while driving in the rain

Staff Reporter
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The Hindu

While many enjoy a drive during the rains, particularly in the hinterlands during the monsoon, it is prudent to follow safe driving practices to avoid treacherous situations.

After the searing summer months, the monsoon is a welcome relief but there’s a big difference while enjoying the rain from the safety of your home and driving amid cascades of water. Driving during rain comes with risks, requiring special focus on vehicle maintenance and improved driving skills.

Spike during monsoon

According to Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Bangalore, M. Abdulla Saleem, the number of road accidents sees a rise during rains. He advises drivers never ever to let down their guard.

Ravi Kirpalani, automotive director and chief operating officer, Castrol India Ltd., offers some safe driving tips during monsoon.

Planning ahead

The first and foremost is to get a thorough pre-monsoon check of the vehicle, including batteries, tyres, all lights, electrical wiring, brakes and their fluids, engine fluids and wipers, Mr. Kirpalani said in a press release.

It is not just enough to keep the windshield wipers in good condition; one has to ensure the wiper fluid bottle is full at all times. Because, once it stops raining, the rainwater on the road is bound to splash your windshield thanks to other moving vehicles. If the windshield becomes dirty, driving becomes difficult.

Keeping the headlights on at low beam during rains irrespective of whether it is foggy, dark or overcast outside helps the driver have a better view of the road and won’t affect the vision of oncoming vehicles as high beam does.

Keep a safe distance

It is better to follow a vehicle moving in front of one’s vehicle during rains at a safe distance and keeping an eye on its brake lights. Such a practice not only helps one drive safely during poor visibility but also alerts the driver about submerged potholes. As for the distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you, it should be twice the usual maintained during dry conditions as vehicles take a longer to halt during wet road conditions.

Hydroplaning — or aquaplaning — is a phenomenon every driver should be respectful of. It occurs when a layer of water builds up between the tyres and the road surface leading to loss of traction and insulating them from control inputs. To avoid this, the driver should ensure proper air pressure in tyres and drive slowly keeping safe distance from other vehicles. It is also necessary to have proper wheel alignment as incorrect alignment increases braking distance by at least 15 per cent.

Know your vehicle

Lastly, it is essential to know one’s vehicle: to be familiar with its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

You should mentally be prepared for emergencies and have contingency plans in place.

It is better to keep a hammer or spanner inside the car — not inside the boot — to break the glass in case of an emergency.

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