Monsoon driving essentials | BusinessMirror


LAST month saw the full impact of the wet season with succeeding days of torrential rains.  Flooded streets and traffic gridlocks suddenly became the norms—again.

The cloudburst may have subsided for the last couple of weeks but pretty sure it will intensify again come September.  The problem with rainstorms, they create an entirely different driving condition. Sure, you may have prepped your car—maintenance-wise—but that’s just half of the equation.  Ultimately, it goes with safe and smart driving approaches on various road situations.

Water beads greatly impede your driving visibility.

Before you drive

It is always wise to plan ahead and determine the travel time and routes. Nowadays, access to weather updates is as easy and you can even get information on specific areas affected by flood, traffic gridlocks and the likes.  Thanks to modern technologies, access to vital news updates is now in our fingertips.  These reports enable you to decide whether to proceed or to delay your trip as well as avoid certain routes.  Gridlocks can be very agonizing especially when you start feeling hungry, thirsty or when nature calls.  So before you leave, pack some supplies of nourishments, bottled water, emergency kits, and even extra clothing, because you’ll never know when you need one.

The urban jungle

Let’s face it.  The Metro is already flooded with vehicles and it’s already a jungle out there.  When you add heavy rains to the situation, that makes it even worse. During downpours, water on your windshield impedes your visibility—other motorists around you share the same predicament.  So make sure to keep your distance and adjust your timing in crossing intersections, changing lanes, entering main roads, etc. In fact, there’s no harm in hesitating until your path is clear. Remember to avoid hasty actions and always assume that the other driver will not see you coming right away.

Another important factors to consider are pedestrians and bikers.  Because, unlike you, these people are preoccupied while exposed in the rain.  Instead, give them space or allow them to cross first. Motorcycle riders are also affected by these circumstances.  Likewise, keep your distance, and a single tap on your horn is enough to alert them of your presence.

On highways and freeways

First things first, slow down.  Not only that it is difficult to see everything up front, but wet roads are certainly slippery. Obviously, vehicles on these roads travel way faster than those on city streets, and anything could happen in a split second.  However, if you’re in cruising speed or even slower, your chances to react ahead conform to the vehicle’s ability to control. Use your signal lights at all times when changing lanes, or flash your head lights once to alert cars you are about to pass. Just make sure to stay away from the fast lane in order for other cars to pass.  Also, keep a longer distance from the vehicle in front and you might want to avoid following trucks since their big tires splash more water and dirt to your windshield.

During downpours and storms

Probably one of the worst times to be driving on any road, this is when you really need to further heighten your level of alertness.  During heavy rains, the comfort of your daily routes could suddenly turn into a navigation nightmare.   More often than not, there’s almost an absence of road visibility and bear in mind that floods and other obstacles will start to surface.  So stay away from roads prone to flooding because pot holes and the other clutter become invisible when submerged. You don’t want to run over those, only to regret the outcome later on.

On expressways, water streams usually build up on both extreme sides of the road. Running your tires on these poses the danger of hydroplaning, where your tire loses traction due to the presence of water between the rubbers and the road.  Not to mention, the splashes your tires create for other motorists to endure.  Stay in the middle lane and maintain an acceptable cruising speed.

Whatever you do, never engage the hazard lights as these will only create confusion to other motorists. The right way to be seen during daytime heavy downpours is to turn on your headlights and by doing so, they also illuminate your taillights.  Last, it is always a good practice to wait for the rain to subside before you drive. If caught in the middle, look for a nearby gas station or any establishment with available parking spaces to settle until the downpour subsides.

Image Credits: Randy S. Peregrino

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