Today, we’re seeing high winds and rain battering our area thanks to Storm Doris!
I’m at least two fence panels down already and the roads have been a challenging prospect today – with debris flying, wheelie bins lying in the road and trees blocking the way (I encountered one on Slag Lane, Lowton), and I saw on Twitter pictures of one blocking Victoria Road, Newton, earlier.
It can be intimidating driving in weather like this but there are a few tips which will help, if you find yourself having to make a journey in the driving rain and howling wind!
1. Before you set off (and before the bad weather even arrives) make sure your tyres are in good condition, with a tread depth of at least 3mm, to give you the best possible grip in wet road conditions.
2. Take time to plan your journey and set off a little earlier to allow extra time. Choose main roads if you can, rather than smaller roads, which may be more prone to fallen branches, debris and flooding.
3. It can be surprising how much gusts of wind can blow your car off course. Keep two hands on the steering wheel and keep a tight grip to give you better control.
4. Look at the road ahead and be prepared for ‘side winds’ – these will hit you in the gaps between trees and buildings, and also as you drive on bridges or higher, exposed roads. Leave enough space either side of your car in case the wind blows you slightly left or right.
5. If you’re overtaking a cyclist or driving alongside a motorbike – leave plenty of space, in case wind blows them into your path. Overtake slowly and carefully. Similarly, if you’re driving next to a large, high-sided vehicle, remember they are particularly vulnerable to side winds. Keep well back!
6. When driving in heavy rain, the spray from other vehicles can affect how well you can see the road. Keep your distance from the vehicle in front so that you can see better. Remember, your stopping distance will be double what it usually would be – you should allow at least a four second gap when driving in the wet.
7. When visibility is reduced, use your headlights appropriately. Dipped headlights would be a good choice for slightly reduced conditions.
8. If you come across patches of flooding or large puddles – be careful! Do you really know how deep that water is before you try driving through? If you are going to try driving through, drive slowly through in first gear, but don’t stop… if you’re in any doubt, don’t do it! As soon as you’re out the other side, check your brakes. Help them dry out more quickly with a little light touch as you’re moving.