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Top 10 tips for wet weather driving

Queensland drivers require special training in order to adequately protect their families on the roads during storm season, according to the Suncorp Insurance Must-Have Safer Queensland Roads Ambassador, Craig Lowndes. Last year 20 people died on the roads in Queensland as a result of rain or wet roads*, equating to 7.4% of the total road toll.The current V8 Supercar Championship leader got hands-on with drivers at the Mt Cotton driver training centre yesterday as part of a Suncorp Insurance initiative to educate Queenslanders on wet weather driving. Lowndes said wet weather driver training had the capacity to seriously lessen injuries and fatalities caused by storm related crashes and was a must-have for any motorist living in Queensland. “You never know what kind of road conditions you will be facing in Queensland, particularly from January through to March. Wet roads can be excessively slippery causing wheel traction to reduce and the driver to lose control. Knowing how to prevent and recover skidding and aquaplaning is easy enough to learn but many people have unfortunately never been educated on the subject,” he said.

Suncorp Insurance spokesperson, Martin Weatherhead said the insurer would be taking a hands-on approach with its Must-Have Safer Queensland Roads campaign in 2012, with a number of similar experiential initiatives in the pipeline. “Driving is largely a physical skill and it’s important to us that our Safer Roads campaign is as educational and hands-on as possible, he said.

Lowndes said that while hands-on training was the best course of action for drivers wanting to brush up on their wet weather skills, there are a few basic rules every Queensland driver should follow to ensure they don’t end up in trouble.

1. Steer into the skid. The first thing you should do is remain calm, ease your foot off the accelerator and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. This is called "steering into the skid" and will bring the back end of your car in line with the front. For cars without anti-lock brakes, avoid using your brakes. If your car has ABS brakes, brake firmly as you "steer into the skid".

2. Never drive in the rain with your cruise control on. If you do this and hydroplane your wheels can reach an excessive speed when not in contact with the road. This has the result of propelling your car forward when the wheels touch down again.

3. Drive in the tracks of the car In front. Following another car’s tracks on wet roads can reduce the amount of water between the road and your car tyres. Whenever possible, slow down by taking your foot off the accelerator and avoid using your brakes.

4. Driving through water. Generally, if the water is deeper than the bottom of your doors or the bottom third of your wheels, it is inadvisable to attempt driving through it. Use extreme caution, slow right down, it is important to watch the flow of the water and how fast it is going. If the water is too high seek a different route rather than braving the flood and risking damage to your electronic control systems.

5. Slow Down. When water mixes with the oil and dirt on the road it can create slick conditions that encourage skidding. The best way to avoid losing control of your vehicle is to slow down.

6. Do not use your high beam headlights. While it is important to use low beam headlights in the wet, high beam headlights are likely to reflect back on you, reducing visibility.

7. Demist Your Front and Back Windscreens. This may seem like a simple tip but you must ensure you have the best vision possible when driving in the wet.

8. Check Your Tyre Tread and Air Pressure. Make sure your tyres have enough tread depth. The deeper the tread the less likely the car is to skid or aquaplane. If they are excessively worn, avoid driving in wet weather. Make sure your tyres are adequately inflated by referring to the air pressure specified by the vehicle manufacturer – this information is usually listed in on the fuel door, glove box or owner’s manual.

9. Avoid Sudden Movements. Be gentle and progressive when steering, accelerating and braking on wet roads. Do not accelerate quickly after stopping. Apply gentle pressure to your accelerator to avoid skidding.

10. Increase your stopping distance. Make sure if the vehicle in front of you comes to a sudden stop, you have enough space to brake to a stop without skidding.

 

Watch Craig in action as he demonstrates some of these wet weather driving tips at the Mt Cotton driver training centre