Stay safe in heavy rain and wind

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Met Éireann is warning of widespread and heavy rain and strong winds around the country today so we have some tips writes Geraldine Herbert

Met Éireann is forecasting  heavy and persistent rain over the next few days so some tips for driving

  • Slow down! It takes longer to stop in wet weather.
  • Try to avoid areas which are prone to flooding,
  • Allow for slower speeds, delays and potential congestion so give yourself extra time.
  • Leave more space between you and the car in front to account for greater stopping distances and particularly from large trucks or buses – the spray from their tyres can block your vision and make it extremely difficult to see.
  • Turn your headlights on.
  • Avoid using your brakes; if possible, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down.
  • Keep a sharp lookout for pedestrians.

If you do encounter floods

  • Drive on the highest section of the road and don’t set off if a vehicle is approaching you.
  • Leave time and space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians.
  • Drive slowly and keep going once you have started – make sure you have a clear run. In a manual car, keep the revs high by “slipping the clutch” (which means the clutch is not fully engaged) all the time you are in the water.
  • If you can’t see where you are going to come out of the water, such as when approaching flooding on a bend, think twice about starting to drive into it.
  • In deep water never take your foot off the accelerator, as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe
  • Once you’re out of the water, dry the brakes before you need them. The best way is to lightly apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds, after checking nothing is following you too closely.

Some tips for Pedestrians and  Cyclists 

  • Visibility and light is reduced in poor weather conditions so make sure you can be seen.
  • Take extra care when crossing the road or cycling in extremely windy conditions as a sudden gust of wind could blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
  • Walk on a footpath, where possible and not in the street,  if there are no footpaths walk on the right-hand side of the road, facing traffic.
  • Look out for falling debris from above, especially in urban areas.
  • Cyclist should ensure that they and their bike are visible to other road users by investing in a good set of front and rear lights.

Driving in strong winds

  • Plan your journey – is there a route with less exposure to the weather and less risk of fallen trees?  Choose a sheltered route if you have the option.
  • Be aware of the danger posed by debris that may have blown into the roadway.
  • Wind rarely blows steadily, and a sudden gust can catch out even the most experienced driver. Expect sudden gusts at any time, but particularly on open stretches of road, when passing bridges or gaps in hedges or when overtaking high-sided vehicles. Make sure both hands are in the correct position on the wheel.
  • High-sided vehicles are most affected by windy weather, so be aware that strong gusts can blow them into your path, but high gusts can also throw a car off particularly aware of this on open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds.
  • Avoid using cruise control so you can better control your car’s speed.
  • Be aware that your car may be affected by turbulence created by large vehicles, so keep well back from them and take extra caution when overtaking.
  • Controlling your speed is an important factor – reducing your speed will provide additional stability.
  • Take care when passing pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and leave extra room, remember they can be blown across your path.
  • Check weather and traffic bulletins regularly and if conditions are likely to worsen then stay home

Geraldine Herbert

4th October 2020

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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