A long weekend monsoon drive is one of life’s great pleasures, but road conditions are tricky and require careful planning and preparation. These basic precautions will secure your monsoon drives so that you can enjoy the beauty of the monsoon in the peace.
1. Be conspicuous and keep away: Drive slowly, brake earlier, turn more gently and indicate turns earlier to stop yourself skidding or colliding with others. Use your horn and lights to stay conspicuous. Stop driving if you’re in very heavy rain – visibility can drop quickly.
2. Keep extra distance: Braking distances are increased on wet roads (do note: the first rain after a dry period can cause the most slippery conditions, and concrete roads are more slippery than others). Keep extra distance from the next vehicle, because they may kick up spray and obscure your vision. Give even more space to two-wheelers. They have less grip, less stability and less braking power than cars.
3. Keep your lights on: Switch on your low beam headlights in the rains, even in the day. This will improve your vision and help others see you more clearly. Avoid using high beam lights in heavy rain as it can reflect light back at you and blind oncoming traffic.
4. Stay in the middle: Stay in the middle of the road to avoid accumulated water on the sides, and avoid driving on painted sections like lane markers, as these give lower grip and might make you ‘aquaplane’, i.e. lose control of the car on a wet surface.
5. Avoid puddles: Don’t drive through puddles of water. They could be deep potholes, and your car could ‘aquaplane’ in water, leading to an absolute loss of control. Also, don’t splash through a puddle as water ingestion could damage your engine.
6. Avoid waterlogged roads: If you aren’t sure about the depth of the water, avoid it. It might be deeper than you think and contain unseen obstacles. Take an alternative route. If you have to drive through it, let a bigger vehicle pass through to help you gauge its depth. Once out of the water, tap your brakes to dry them off.
7. Don’t stall: When in a flooded area, stay in first gear, go slow and keep revving the engine to ensure that exhaust gases are pushed out of the tailpipe. Do everything to ensure the car doesn’t stall, because it’s difficult to restart in wet weather. If your car does stall, do not attempt to start the engine again, because the engine might hydrolock. First try to check if any water has entered the engine intake or tailpipe.
8. Avoid fogging: Keep the A/C on fresh air / ventilation mode, with moderate cooling, and use the demister to avoid fogging from the inside (if they fog from the outside, roll down the windows a little so the temperature difference is reduced).