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How to drive safely in heavy rain

Severe weather warnings have prompted the IAM to issue advice on how to drive in these conditions.

Before you set off, set your heater controls – rain can make windows mist up in seconds. You don’t want to be fiddling with heating, ventilation and a/c controls when you should be concentrating on the road.

Slow down. In the rain your stopping distance should be at least doubled. Giving yourself more space helps you to avoid spray, especially when following a large vehicle.

Keep your eyes on the road ahead and plan your driving so that you can brake, accelerate and steer smoothly – harsh manoeuvres will unbalance the car.

Strong winds can also unsettle your car and even change your direction of travel. Grip your steering wheel firmly and be aware of the effects of the elements on other road users, particularly motorcyclists and flat-sided vehicles.

If you have cruise control, avoid using it on wet roads – it may create problems if you start to aquaplane.

See and be seen. Put your lights on – as a rule of thumb, whenever you need to use your wipers you should also turn your headlights on, and before overtaking put your wipers on their fastest setting.

In cases of severe flooding, you should reconsider making the journey at all. If it is unavoidable, and you have to drive through deep water, the IAM recommends drivers take the following precautions:

Drive on the highest section of the road and don't set off into the flood if a vehicle is approaching you because it could swamp you.

Leave time and space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians.

If driving a diesel, check where the engine air inlet is. If below or close to the weater level, water could be sucked into the engine causingh it to 'hydraulic' and wrecking it.

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.

The IAM's Peter Rodger said: "A suddenly very wet road surface increases the chances of slipping when braking or steering, which is a problem not just for motorists, but cyclists and motorcyclists too."

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