There is no doubt that rainfall is very essential to all, particularly to the farmer and those in hot and dry environment, because apart from being a needed resource, it fills rivers, provides fresh water, cools the weather and sustains the ecosystem.
But when it is heavier than a drizzle, rainfall is dreaded by every motorist, because it makes driving more tasking, and in some cases, poses a potential threat when excessive downpour leads to flash flooding. That is when motoring is not just risky, but very dangerous!
Driving your vehicle in the rain can be very challenging, which explains why rainy conditions account for very high accident rates in all parts of the world. With this reality in mind, every year, as the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) and the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) issue rain and flood forecasts. The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) also makes it a duty to enlighten motorists and other road users with tips on how to stay safe in the rain.
According the FRSC, because visibility is reduced and the road wet, motorists must ensure that before even taking their vehicles out in the first place, they should ensure that they are in good motoring condition: That the headlights, wipers, and brake are functional, and the tyres not balding or worn out in order to enable adequate grip during braking (as the road surface is likely to be slippery when wet).
Beyond taking care that all is well mechanically, the human factor should not be taken for granted: Defensive driving is needed in all motoring conditions, but most useful when it is raining. And the first rule for every self-disciplined driver when it starts raining is to avoid excessive speed. The slower the vehicle is, the more likely you are able to be in control.
The Corps’ Public Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem, confirmed this, advising all motorists to apply “common sense speed limit” in a rainy weather.
Kazeem, an Assistant Corps Marshal, gave these tips to drivers: “First of all, before embarking on a journey during the rainy season, one should ensure that the windows and windshields are clean on the outside and the inside. It is pertinent to routinely check the headlights, brake lights, turn signals and tail lights.
“The windshield wiper and blades should also be checked for proper functioning. The lights should be on during the day and at night, whenever rain starts dropping. Motorists are also advised to reduce their speed during this time and apply the “common sense speed limit”.
The Corps’ Public Education Officer also spoke on slippery road surface and the need for good tyres: “Because the road surface is often slippery, drivers are also admonished to ensure that their tyres have adequate traction. The traction is the resistance between the tyre and the ground.
“As such, it is dangerous to use worn-out tyres during the rainy season because the tread patterns are faded and friction is reduced, thereby leaving the car with less traction. And a car without proper traction is a potential tragedy to the road.”
He described vehicle tyres as being amongst the most crucial elements, and the only part that touches the road, which is why the tyre traction is the grip of the vehicle on the road and it is very, very essential.
Other essential guides by road safety experts towards safe motoring in the rain include:
•Ensuring that taillights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning so other drivers will see your vehicle during downpours.
•If you are not yet out in the rain, wait until the weather improves, if possible If you feel uncomfortable driving in the rain and can postpone your trip or go by public transport service, wait until the weather improves before driving.
•Take a good look at the tread of your vehicle’s tyres. Worn-out tyres can severely reduce traction on wet road. Watch out for obstructions, like broken down vehicles, accident scenes, fallen trees, which you may suddenly come upon, due to (poor visibility).
•You should slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you. This will help to avoid aquaplaning or hydroplaning – a challenging condition where water causes the vehicle’s tyres to lose contact with the road surface leading to loss of control.
Generally, the first rule is, always keep your vehicle in good condition. If it is about to rain, but you are still at home or at work, tarry awhile for the weather to get better, if possible. Before driving in the rain, double check the vehicle’s vital equipment to ensure they will still function properly when needed.
The check list must include headlamps, rear lights, and wipers. And, if all is okay with the vehicle, when you encounter the rain, it behoves you to reduce speed and deploy what the FRSC calls “defensive driving.”
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