Driving in wind and rain - tips for how to drive in a storm

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Preparing
Driving in rain
Driving in wind
Aquaplaning
How to make a claim
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Driving in stormy weather can be pretty stressful, and it can get dangerous if extra care isn’t taken.

Sometimes we have to hit the road in heavy winds and rain, though – no matter how much we’d love to stay cosy indoors.

Here’s how to do it safely. 🚗⛈

Preparing for driving in heavy rain and strong winds

Before you head out on the road in bad weather, give yourself the best chance of avoiding trouble.

Here’s our top tips for driving safely in bad conditions:

  • Checking your wiper blades – if your front or rear wiper blades are in anything less than good condition, they’ll definitely need changing.
  • Demisting your car – rain mists up your car, so make sure to get it fully dried out before you set off. (Use your heater and air con to do this, or open your windows.)
  • Giving yourself plenty of time – don’t head out in a rush in bad weather. Chances are you’ll be tempted to go faster than the weather permits, which can be dangerous.
  • Checking for flooding or forecasts of worsening weather – if things don’t look good, think about whether your journey can be put off. Sometimes it’s just not worth taking the risk.
  • Wrapping up warm – if you break down or have an accident, you might not be able to rely on your car’s heating to keep you warm.
  • Drying your feet before you set off – if you drive in wet shoes, your feet might slip on the pedals. Give them a wipe on the car mat before you get going.
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Driving safely in heavy rain

So you’re in the driver’s seat, you’ve prepared properly for your trip and you’re ready to go. Now what?

Here’s our advice for driving safely in heavy rain:

  • Go slow – heavy rain means poor visibility and longer stopping times, so it’s important to go slow. That means remembering that speed limits are just that – a maximum limit. They’re not a suggested speed. If you have to go 20 in a 40, so be it.
  • Put your dipped headlights or side lights on (even if it’s daytime) – heavy rain can make it hard to see other cars, so it’s important to put your lights on even if it’s the middle of the day.
  • Don’t put your fog lights on – fog lights are way too bright to use when it’s raining because they reflect off the wet road. Also, the red light can create a glare in other drivers’ windscreens.
  • Leave plenty of room between cars – leave at least a four second gap (instead of the usual two) between you and the car in front.
  • Leave even more room for lorries – the spray they create in the rain can make it really hard for you to see if you get too close.
  • Don’t use cruise control – this might make it harder to get control of your car if you aquaplane (we’ll explain more on aquaplaning below).
  • Watch out for wet leaves – they can cause you to skid, just like ice.
  • Never drive into moving water where you can’t see the ground – you could end up getting swept away.
  • Avoid puddles if you can’t see how deep they are – you might get stuck, aquaplane, or damage your car.
  • Check your brakes if you accidentally go through deep water – driving through deep water (even a deep puddle) can stop your brakes from working properly. Once you’re out of the water, drive really slowly and tap your brakes gently. This should help you understand if they’ve been affected. It’ll also help them dry out. If you’re worried your brakes aren’t working properly, pull over straight away and get help.

Don’t forget: The Highway Code says stopping distances double when the roads are wet. So that means the usual two second rule for stopping goes up to four seconds.

TL;DR
Drive slower than usual, give yourself more time and space to brake, and be extra careful when overtaking in wind and rain.

Driving safely in strong wind

Windy out? Here’s our tips for driving safely in strong winds:

  • Go slow – slow it down to keep better control of the car, especially on more exposed parts of the motorway.
  • Take extra care when overtaking – give extra room if you need to overtake, especially for lorries, cyclists, motorcyclists and buses. If you’re overtaking a lorry or bus, be prepared for a strong gust of wind when you get past them (they shelter you while you’re alongside them). Of course, avoid overtaking if it feels too risky.
  • Keep a firm hold of the steering wheel – sudden gusts of winds can make it harder to control your car, so you’ll want to hold firm. Don’t grip too tight though, because it might make you jerk the steering wheel. What about driving in snow and ice?

We have a whole separate guide for that 😌. Check out our tips on driving in snow and ice.

Aquaplaning

First thing’s first: you should always avoid driving through big puddles or flood water if you can.

Driving through water that’s a foot or more deep can be dangerous.

You can lose control of your car. And there’s no way of knowing what lies under the flood water (like potholes, loose drain covers, and other harmful stuff).

Driving through deep water can also damage your car’s engine and electrics.

So if you spot a flood on the road ahead, take another route – even if it adds time onto your journey.

What is aquaplaning?

However, sometimes it’s impossible to spot deep water before you hit it.

If this happens, you might start aquaplaning (this is sometimes called hydroplaning).

This is where there’s too much water between your tyres and the ground, making them lose their grip on the road. When this happens, you might not be able to steer, break or accelerate.

You’ll know you’re aquaplaning because your steering will feel light – kind of like your car is gliding.

What to do if you start aquaplaning

If you start aquaplaning, you should:

  • Not slam on the brakes – this could make your car spin out
  • Ease off the accelerator slowly and gently
  • Keep the steering wheel straight and steady
  • Start to brake when you feel like you’ve got control of the car again

How to make a claim after an accident in bad weather

If you need to make a car insurance claim because of something that happened in bad weather, just follow the same steps you normally would.

Check out our big Cuvva guide to car insurance claims for everything you need to know.

Does car insurance cover damage during bad weather?

Bad weather doesn’t affect your car insurance.

Just because it’s stormy out, you should be treated the same as if it were a bright, clear day.

Insurers do make a big deal about something called ‘contributory negligence’, though.

In other words, if they can prove you did something really careless, they might not pay out.

Driving in a storm wouldn’t be classed as really careless. That’s just a normal part of life.

But if you, say, drove deliberately into a flooded area where there was a warning in place, your insurer might think differently.

If they can prove you were reckless, they might not pay out for damage.

It all depends on how much you’re to ‘blame’.

If your car gets flooded while it’s parked in its usual place, for example, your insurer should pay out (if you have a comprehensive policy).

Don’t forget, if you have third-party, fire and theft insurance, you won’t be covered for accidental damage anyway.

You can read about the different types of car insurance cover here.

What about if there was a weather warning?

Weather warnings shouldn’t affect your car insurance.

If you have a comprehensive policy, you should still be covered for accidental damage if you drive during a warning.

Staying safe should always come first, though.

Get insured

Don’t forget the golden rule: you must be insured before hitting the road in any weather.

Cuvva can help you get sorted - and quickly! We have short term insurance from as little as one hour, plus easy rolling monthly cover. Get a quick quote here.

Updated on 8th April 2022