Driving In Heavy Rain and Strong Winds

Written by John

On February 24, 2021

When the weather changes it can make driving difficult. Wet roads can cause accidents as heavy downpours massively reduce visibility. Driving in heavy rain can challenge professional fleet drivers.

When driving in storms or a weather alert is in place, it can for many be scary and hazardous to hit the road. It can also be confusing for many to know what to do if you are affected by bad weather. 

First thing is safety, do you need to travel, is it important, can it wait. If so wait for the weather to calm down. If you need to drive in this weather then do so with caution and safety in mind. 

How Windy Is Too Windy to Drive In The UK

When winds get as high as 70mph or more, this will make driving more hazardous. Especially if your journey requires to cross over a bridge or in large open space areas and even in tunnels. Here are a few tips for you:

  • Keep both hands firm on the wheel. This gives you more control if you’re blown off-course.
  • Be aware of taller vehicles like lorries and caravans. Heavy winds affect them even more so they might have difficulty staying in control.
  • Give more room to cyclists and motorbikes. A sudden gust may force them to veer across the road.
  • Slow down. This gives you more time to react to changes in the wind and to any fallen trees on the road.

Driving In Rain and Wind

What I would recommend is you do not drive through any flood more than a few inches. When training van drivers I say if the water comes up the the top of the lowest wheel nuts then do not drive through. This is because water can cause corrosion to your vehicles mechanical parts or damage the engine. If you damage your car through driving through a flood, your insurer may not cover that claim, as you could have avoided it by going turning round and going another way, hence avoiding the damage.

Driving on Wet Roads

Driving in rain doubles your stopping distance, so there is a greater risk of collision. Drivers should maintain a safe distance and slow to a safer speed due to the reduced tyre grip.

Driving in wet conditions not only increases your stopping distance but also reduces visibility.

Did you know it only takes six inches of fast flowing water to knock you off your feet, it takes only one foot of water to float a car. To keep safe you should:

  • Drop your speed on wet roads to give yourself time to slow down if needed.
  • Avoid wet leaves. These can be as dangerous as standing water.
  • Watch out for floodwater on bends. If you don’t know when you’ll come out of the water, it might not be worth the risk of driving into it.
  • Drive on the highest section of the road. You can use the edge of the kerb as an indicator of the water’s depth.
  • Maintain a slow steady speed as you drive through any water.
  • Test your brakes as soon as you’re out of the water.

Driving In Flood

If you have gone through a flood and it has come into your car, there are some things you should do to ensure your car is still roadworthy:

driving in flood

  • Put on protective clothing and gloves before you investigate. Debris and sewage can contaminate the water.
  • Don’t try and start the engine. Water could still be in the cylinders of the car, which could cause further damage if started.
  • Arrange for a mechanic to pick up and fix your car.
  • Check for water in the oil. If the dipstick has water droplets, you’ll need to change both the oil and the filter.
  • Get a professional to clean and dry out any wet upholstery. That way it eliminates the chances of mildew forming.

Take photos of the car and make accurate records of any damage. This should help with any insurance claims you make.

If you have possessions in the car, list those along with any receipts. Your insurer will then consider whether they’ll repair the car or write it off.

Is My Car Covered for Flood Damage?

Yes, if you have a fully comprehensive policy, however good advice would be to check with your insurance provider or policy terms and conditions before you make a claim.

Can I Claim for Storm Damage to My Car?

Knowing if you can claim for damage during a weather warning can be confusing for many drivers, a fully comprehensive policy should cover you for damage caused by falling trees or debris. If you choose to make this type of claim on your policy, it would be an ‘at fault’ claim. This does not mean that you are to blame, it is because the insurance company cannot reclaim the repair costs from a third party. 

Dangers of Driving In High Winds

Always check the weather forecast before you go on a long journey. Driving in high winds will make it harder for you to maneuver the car or van and falling branches, even trees can damage your vehicle.

Driving a Van In the Wind

Vans are higher than normal cars, and they can be affected by side wind more than other vehicles. It is important that you check the condition of your vehicle regularly to make sure that you are ready for the journey.

Advice On Driving Over a Windy Bridge

When you drive over a windy bridge, you will need to be ready for sudden gusts, especially on long stretches. You might also want to give larger vehicles, such as lorries a greater clearance, as they might sway side to side due to the side wind. If you are overtaking cyclists or motorcyclists, give them more space, too. But most importantly, slow down and avoid using a trailer.

Breaking Down in Wet Weather

breaking down in flooed

It is never a good time to break down, no matter if it is good weather or not. But if you do break down in bad weather you should pull over to a safe place, but make sure you have visibility from traffic coming from behind, then call for help to come.

Do not open the bonnet whilst waiting for recovery, this is so you do not make it worse by getting the electrics soaked in the rain. 

Keep listening to local weather reports and traffic updates to tell you if there are any bridges are closed. If advised not to travel it is best not too.


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