How To Drive In Heavy Rain & Stormy Conditions

Last Updated: 10/04/2021

It doesn’t matter how much preparation or theory revision you do when learning to drive, there are a few scenarios for which no amount of practice-setting rehearsal will help you with.

Once such scenario is the weather.

What is happening in the environment outside of your vehicle makes a big difference as to how you should drive it, none more so than the weather.

Strong winds or heavy rain can make driving very difficult and safety professionals know that the risk of you being involved in a potentially dangerous situation increases significantly when severe weather hits.

Knowing how you should handle particularly weather conditions is useful and things such as safe stopping distances in wet or icy conditions can all help prepare you for when you do encounter particularly bad weather.

At some point, you will encounter it – everybody does.

For inexperienced drivers, it can be quite scary.

Heavy rain or gale-force winds can really make even the most simple of drives much more challenging, so you need to know how to handle the car and what steps to take when you’re in this situation.

What You Will Learn

To help get you prepared for driving in adverse or extreme weather, we’ve put together this in-depth guide.

We’ve tried to provide as much information as possible so that you can head out with some confidence that when the bad weather hits, you’ll be confident in dealing with it.

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

When the weather turns nasty and you’re driving, then you need to ensure your absolute full attention and concentration is on the road and the environment around you.

There are some steps you can take to help ensure you are driving distraction-free and are left to handle what mother nature throws at you.

The following list will help you to keep focused and avoid any distractions:

  • Turn your radio right down or off.
  • Turn your mobile phone off.
  • Keep conversation to a minimum until you have either passed through the bad weather or until the bad weather eases off.
  • If your journey is not absolutely necessary then wait until the weather improves.

How To Drive In Heavy Winds:

Wind may seem like the least of your troubles when the weather takes a turn for the worse but it is wise to give it your utmost consideration.

Strong winds can whip up suddenly and are more common in wide open areas.

Particular areas to be wary of are motorway bridges, tunnels and mountain passes which can funnel the wind and increase its power.

The following tips will help you if you find yourself confronted with high winds when driving:

  • Gusts of wind are particularly problematic so anticipate them as far as possible. Keep track of weather reports, especially when severe weather is predicted. If you do feel the effect of wind on the car handling, remain on-guard for further gusts.
  • Keep your distance from large vehicles on the road such as motor-homes, high-sided lorries and tractor-trailers. The wind can make them more susceptible to hazards and drivers may be unable to control them or keep them in their lanes.
  • If winds are very strong, you may find that your vehicle starts to move. You must keep a firm grip on the wheel, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.  It’s important to focus on the road ahead and keep your car under control and in lane.

How To Drive In Heavy Rain:

  • Heavy rain usually means very poor visibility and it is essential that drivers prepare themselves for the possibility of hydroplaning.
  • Hydroplaning happens when a vehicle is driving too fast in heavy rain. The vehicle’s tyres actually move on a layer of water rather than directly on the road surface. This can be very dangerous and could cause you to lose control because the steering and braking cease to function properly.
  • You can prevent hydroplaning by slowing down and driving with care. Rain can cause difficulties as soon as it starts, particularly if there is oil on the road, creating slippery conditions. Always drive slower than you normally do when it is raining. You will only be a matter of minutes behind time, but it could save your life.
  • Lights are extremely important when the rain starts to fall. Turn your headlights on in heavy rain so that you can be seen, even in broad daylight.
  • Leave more space between your vehicle and others to give yourself and them time to react to traffic conditions.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

Vehicle Condition:

It sounds simple, but staying on top of things such as the condition of your tyres will not only keep your car legal but it will also help handling in poor weather.

Always Look Ahead:

When driving conditions become hazardous, people are often quick to focus on what’s happening around them.

The best thing you can do is keep focussing on what’s ahead.

Keep a safe stopping distance from the vehicle in front, keep your car in-line despite heavy winds, etc.

Useful Information

Many fatal accidents occur on our roads every year due to bad weather conditions.

The main cause seems to be related to drivers not changing their normal driving behaviour to take account of the changes in the weather.

Concentration and speed are the number one contributor to such accidents and it is therefore imperative that drivers remove as many distractions as possible and check their speed.

Final Thoughts

Heavy winds and rain can kill.

Read up on how to deal with these weather types and ensure that both you and your vehicle is prepared.

Read our other guides relating to motorway driving, safe stopping distances and driving in heavy traffic, all of which carry sound advice which can be applied to driving in bad weather.

Further Resources