Evenings are getting longer and the sun is setting later, which means spring has arrived and those long-awaited road trips and rural drives can finally happen.
But as well as the beautiful scenery, spring can bring with it some different challenges for drivers, both new and experienced. Here are some of our top tips for driving safely in spring weather and advice on the types of obstacles you may face at this time of year.
Typical British weather means that you can be sure to expect some showers when driving in the spring, but in heavy rain, especially if following a particularly dry spell, it can make the roads quite treacherous.
Expert instructors from Bill Plant Driving School explain that your stopping distance in rainy conditions will be at least double than that on a dry surface, as the wet road will be more slippery, and your tyres will have less grip. This will therefore increase your braking distance. In terms of your reaction time, another component of the stopping distance, reduced visibility in heavy rain will also increase your thinking time before braking.
In the likelihood of extreme weather conditions, and the chance of driving in flooded roads, make sure to drive in as low a gear as possible, to reduce the risk of aquaplaning. You should also avoid driving too close to other vehicles and check your brakes once you are no longer in the flooded area. Also be aware that if there are high winds alongside the rain, that there may be branches, debris and other stray items in the road that could be potential hazards.
We all know that the weather in the UK can be erratic, so you may come across some heat and sunshine during spring as well as the rain. You should be fully prepared when driving in this type of weather too. Here’s a handy checklist to consider:
- Check your car – adverse heat can cause extra strain on your car engine, so always check the oil level before you start any journey, and top it up if needed. Whilst your driving, pay attention to the components of your car. If you notice the engine is overheating, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and call for assistance. Continuing to drive with an overheated engine can cause irreversible damage.
- Correct footwear – it’s not the best idea to drive in flip flops, or similar shoes, as tempting as it may be in hot weather. This type of footwear can cause an increase in the braking time and the likelihood of an accident. You can always carry a pair of flip flops to change into, and have a more suitable pair of shoes for when you are driving.
- Use your sun visor – the visor is there for exactly this weather, so use it when you’re driving in brilliant sunshine. Sunglasses are also effective at keeping the sun out your eyes and improving visibility.
- Use the aircon – the aircon will help keep you cool as well as prevent you from feeling uncomfortable and lethargic whilst driving. You should try to direct the vents of the air con towards the roof of the car with the back windows open to maximise the circulation of the cool air.
- Keep hydrated – try to keep a bottle of water within reach whilst driving in hot weather, so as to keep fully hydrated and improve concentration. Although remember to only reach for your drink when it is safe to do so.
Obstructions in the Road
Spring time means more young animals, which everybody likes to see in the fields, but they are also more likely to stray and end up on rural roads. You should try to avoid swerving or braking too harshly to avoid animals, by slowing down in rural areas and allowing yourself more time to react.
With spring-like weather, it also more common for people to be out on the roads cycling or riding horses. When passing a horse and their rider, drive slowly and give plenty of room, with the anticipation that you may need to stop if necessary. It is important to never sound your horn or rev your engine when near horses, as this could startle the animal and lead to an accident.
If you’re eager to get on the roads this spring, with these handy tips, you can be secure in the knowledge that you can enjoy driving safely and with confidence.