Woman driving in rainy weather

What's in this guide?

Preparing to drive in the rain

Driving safely in wet weather 

It’s important to reduce your speed in wet weather to leave more space between vehicles, giving more leeway if something unexpected happens and to reduce the likelihood of hydroplaning.

When the roads are slippery, the Highway Code observes stopping distances at least double. Staying at least four seconds from moving traffic ahead is therefore wise to ensure you have longer to react to a hazard.

Watch the road closely in case spray from other vehicles reduces your visibility suddenly. Consider others too and avoid driving too quickly through puddles near to cyclists or pedestrians.

Stay in control to avoiding having to brake or accelerate harshly braking and carry out manoeuvres very slowly and with extra care.

Pedestrians, bikes, motorbikes and horses are harder to spot in the wet, so look out for them closely. Also watch carefully for signs warning of hazards or temporary lower speed limits.

Driving through water

If you must drive through a puddle, use the highest part of the road, judging by the edge of the kerb. Avoid driving through if it looks more than 10cm deep, as the air intake in many vehicles is low down at the front and even a small amount of water in the engine can cause damage.

Watch out for objects that may cause damage to your wheels, tyres or suspension, so you can avoid them and use a safe path across. Drive through slowly but steadily in a low gear and with engine revs up to maintain your momentum. 

Once you're safely through the water, test your brakes as soon as you can. 

Be particularly careful with floods on bends. If you can't see where you're going to come out of the water, think twice about starting to drive into it. 

If the water is clearly too deep for your car, find another route. Don't gamble driving down flooded roads: it only takes 1ft of water to float a car. Furthermore, if you damage your engine by driving through water and a new one needs to be fitted, your insurance policy may not cover the bill.

What to do if you break down in the rain

Wet weather causes more breakdowns as damp conditions increase issues with electrics and engines.

Should your car break down, pull over to a safe visible place, turn on the hazard lights, and wait for help to arrive. If your engine cuts out after you have had to navigate deep water, don’t try and restart it, as engine damage may occur. Instead, stop and call for professional assistance.

Keep the bonnet shut while waiting, as the engine will be more difficult to start if the electrics are soaked with rain.

Top wet weather driving tips

If you are going to be out in your vehicle in wet conditions, follow our top ten tips to stay safe.

Have the right car hire excess insurance

With the challenges of driving in bad weather, if you are hiring a car and are likely to face them, you should consider car hire excess insurance to cover you if you have an accident whilst driving.

While many car hire companies offer cover, taking it out with them could be far more expensive (and less comprehensive) than cover provided by an insurance provider - such as insurance4carhire.com. Find out more about our policies and what car hire excess insurance is.

Please note that all legal requirements referenced in this article were correct as of 12th January 2019 and apply to the United Kingdom only. If you are driving elsewhere, it is important to look up the applicable legal requirements.

This is a marketing article from insurance4carhire.