Don’t get the wet weather blues

Don’t get the wet weather blues this summer

We’re having a typical English summer, sun for a couple of weeks and then downpours for days on end. IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman advises a few ways to keep safe in heavy rain and floods.

Heavy rain

  • Driving in heavy rain will affect your visibility, so take it slow. Rule 126 of the Highway Code states that the braking distance between yourself and another car on a dry road surface should be at least two seconds, and at least four seconds when driving in the rain
  • Ensure your windscreen wipers are working correctly, and that the windscreen is clean – using your wipers when you have a dirty windscreen will just smear and make your visibility even worse
  • Turn your headlights on. Many of us now have automated headlights, but often they will not come on in adverse weather conditions; ensure they are on so you’re visible to other road users. A good rule of thumb is that if you need your wipers on, then you need your headlights on too

Aquaplaning

Is your car aquaplaning? Here are some signs that you could be:

  • Your engine may become louder if the driving wheels have lost grip
  • It will feel as though you’ve dropped down in the gears causing revs to increase
  • The steering may become lighter and unresponsive

If you experience any of this, try not to panic. Follow these tips:

  • Ease off the accelerator or cancel the cruise control
  • Hold the steering wheel straight and firm
  • Do not hit your brakes hard

When your car gains traction you can slowly begin to use the brake and slow down.

How to avoid aquaplaning

If it’s been raining and you’re about to drive, there are things that you can do to help prevent your car from aquaplaning. Standing water as shallow as 2.5mm can cause an aquaplaning effect at speed so be sure to follow the steps below:

  • Check your tyres – they can have a massive impact on how your car will handle in the wet. Watch this video by TyreSafe for more info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxuYOI_uruU
  • Reduce your speed; problems occur when the tyres can no longer clear the standing water as they rotate. Going slower will allow time for the tread to do its job
  • Be alert for flood warnings on the road and if you can see any water in the distance, be sure to slow down and prepare to go around it
  • Avoid using cruise control in extreme conditions

Floods

  • If there are floods you need to consider other routes to keep you safe. If the water is standing more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. You can judge the depth in relation to the kerb
  • If there are similar vehicles driving safely through, then you can make a judgement call on whether it’s safe to do so yourself.
  • If the water is fast flowing, do not attempt to drive through it. There is a real danger of your car being swept away

If you have decided to drive through a flood take the following precautions:

  • Go slowly and take it easy
  • Press lightly on the clutch and add gentle pressure to the accelerator to increase engine revs but do so without speed. Do this in a similar way to how you do hill starts, this will prevent water from entering your exhaust. If you’re in an automatic, accelerate lightly but control the speed with your brakes
  • If you have any doubt, turn back. Often modern saloon cars have an air intake in the wheel arch and could be below water level if going through a flood. If your engine takes in any water, it will immediately hydro lock and the engine will stop
  • Remember to stay alert and avoid splashing pedestrians. If this is done accidentally you can still receive a fixed penalty and three points on your license for driving without due care and attention. If done deliberately it could be a public order offence, a court appearance, or a fine

Richard says “With the British weather the way it is, we should all be well practised at driving in the rain. Keeping your car maintained and the rubber (wipers and tyres) in good condition will help you stay safe. In the recent extreme weather, we have seen that standing water and floods are becoming more commonplace, so take extra care and if possible, avoid driving through standing water. If you’re in any doubt about the depth or surface underneath a flood, then it’s best not to take any chances.”

Courtesy IAM Inform Weekly News

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Barefoot in my car?

During this hot weather is it legal for me to drive barefoot in my car?

Please allow Derby Advanced Motorists to start this answer with a definition.

Toe: A part of the foot used to find furniture in the dark.

The unbooted foot is also an excellent tool for finding abandoned Lego bricks on the floor. Apparently, the bottom of a human foot can have over 200,000 sensory receptors and, because the Lego brick doesn’t give way when stepped on, it forces the pressure of one’s weight back up into the foot, causing the sensation of pain and an immediate retraction of said foot and probably a lot of bad language.

The seaside hobble is another fine example of the human nervous system at work. Have you ever been for a paddle in the sea, and had to cross an area of pebbles before reaching the surf? Going slowly and carefully only prolonged the agony!

So, is it illegal to drive barefoot in the UK?

Rule 97 in the Highway Code is not really all that helpful.

Rule 97 Before setting off. You should ensure that: clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner

You can, in other words drive a vehicle, barefoot, provided you are able to operate the controls safely. Although, please note: Rule 97 does state “…and footwear”. If you do drive with wet feet, for example, you might be putting yourself, your passengers and other road users at risk by not being able to drive the car safely. This is illegal. According to the Driving Standards Agency – the body that regulates the UK driving test – “suitable shoes are particularly important behind the wheel. We would not recommend driving barefoot because you don’t have the same braking force with bare feet as you do with shoes on.”

The R.A.C. gives this advice on its website. “Driving in less than practical shoes – or no shoes at all for that matter – is not illegal, but you have a responsibility as a driver to uphold standards on the road.

If your selection of footwear hampers that, you’re putting yourself at risk.

There are some basic guidelines you should follow when selecting footwear to drive in. Your shoe should:

  • Have a sole no thicker than 10mm…

  • but the sole should not be too thin or soft.

  • Provide enough grip to stop your foot slipping off the pedals.

  • Not be too heavy.

  • Not limit ankle movement.

  • Be narrow enough to avoid accidentally depressing two pedals at once.


These bear feet would not be suitable!

This does technically categorise some types of footwear – such as high-heels and flip-flops – unsuitable for piloting a car. While light, flimsy and impractical footwear can be dangerous, so can sturdy, robust shoes, such as walking boots, snow boots and wellingtons”

Try emergency braking with a small piece of stone stuck on the ball of the right foot!

So, in summary, although legal it is not advisable. IAM RoadSmart expect drivers to choose sensible footwear!

 

 

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Minimum tread depth for the trailer tyres?

I am going camping this summer and towing my gear in a trailer. What is the minimum tread depth for the trailer tyres?

Tyres

The Law says:

Cars, light vans and light trailers MUST have a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference.

Tyres MUST be correctly inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s specification for the load being carried. Always refer to the vehicle’s handbook or data. Tyres should also be free from certain cuts and other defects.

Law: Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 regulation 27

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The word MUST indicates a legal requirement. Failure to comply could result in a penalty which is usually in the form of points on the drivers license and a fine.

If a tyre bursts while you are driving, try to keep control of your vehicle. Grip the steering wheel firmly and allow the vehicle to roll to a stop at the side of the road.

If you have a flat tyre, stop as soon as it is safe to do so. Only change the tyre if you can do so without putting yourself or others at risk – otherwise call a breakdown service.

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Can I tint my car’s front and rear windows?

Can I tint my car’s front and rear windows?

Window Tints.

There are different rules for the front and rear car window tints and it also depends on when a vehicle first came into use.

The Law says:

You MUST NOT use a vehicle with excessively dark tinting applied to the windscreen, or to the glass in any front window to either side of the driver. Window tinting applied during manufacture complies with the Visual Light Transmittance (VLT) standards. There are no VLT limits for rear windscreens or rear passenger windows.

Laws:

Road Traffic Act 1988 Section 42

Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 regulation 32

If your windscreen or front side windows are tinted too much you could get:

  • a ‘prohibition notice’ stopping you using your vehicle on the road until you have the extra tint removed

  • a penalty notice or court summons

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Derbyshire women-only advanced riders Skills Day

Female observers wanted for group event
 
Linda Ashmore, national observer and Masters mentor for Dorchester and West Dorset Advanced Motorcyclists, is looking for female observers for a women-only Skills Day on Tuesday 13 August in Derbyshire to introduce women riders to advanced skills and IAM RoadSmart. The event will take place during the week of the Women’s International Motorcycle Association’s International Rally taking place at the YHA Castleton, S33 8WB from 11 to 17 August. The group has had up to 50 women bikers on previous female Skills Days. If you would like further information e-mail Linda direct at linda.ashmore@hotmail.co.uk. Supplied by Linda Ashmore

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Driving Tips: Get Caravanning: Tips from IAM RoadSmart

With holidays on the horizon, there will be more people dusting off their caravan and packing for the long weekends. IAM RoadSmart has partnered up with the Caravan and Motorhome Club to offer some advice for a successful holiday trip.

Going away with the whole family and the caravan, trailer tent or camping trailer is a great experience. By ensuring that you load the caravan or trailer correctly, and deal appropriately with other traffic, you can help ease the stress levels, especially if you lack towing experience.

With the south west of England being a very popular place to visit, it is not surprising that the South West has some of the highest incident rates for caravans. Between January 2017 and May 2018 there have been 850 caravan or trailer incidents on main roads in the South West region, with 460 of those occurring in the summer months of May to September last year – a sure way to put a sudden end to a lovely holiday. With the majority of caravans only being used over the summer months, this figure needs to be reduced.

Most incidents happen around the weekend. Nearly a third of all incidents occur on Saturdays and Sundays, with Mondays and Fridays not too far behind.

Caravan and trailer road-worthiness is just as important as your car’s, and particular care is needed for that first summer outing, as many are parked up and unused over the winter.

We recommend that before you start your trip you make sure you have checked both your car and caravan or trailer. Especially check your tyres as they should be inflated to the correct pressure, have a good amount of tread (no lower than 1.6mm) and be free from damage.

The caravan breakaway cable (or safety chain on smaller unbraked trailers) should be in good condition and connected correctly. If you have a caravan or a large box-shaped trailer you will almost always need to fit extension mirrors – these will help make sure you have a good view behind you and comply with the law.

Remember when loading your caravan or trailer to make sure it is not overloaded as this can put you at additional risk of instability, and mean you’re breaking the law. Ensure your heavy items are positioned correctly over the axle, low to the floor with lighter items higher up.

A quick refresher of the Highway Code will remind you that travelling in the right-hand lane of a motorway with three or more lanes is not allowed and your speed limit when towing is 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways and 50 mph on single carriageways, unless a lower overall limit is applies.

Be extra vigilant on downhill stretches as your speed can easily creep up and get too high – this is a common contributory factor to your caravan/trailer losing stability. Remember, you will need more room to stop when towing and you should always have a big enough gap to be able to slow down and stop in an emergency.

Towing in high winds needs additional care and perhaps a change of route should be considered. However, it’s not just windy days you need to be mindful of. Overtaking large vehicles can place you in their “bow wave” and this can cause instability of caravans which are badly loaded and/or being towed too fast.

Martin Spencer, technical manager at the Caravan and Motorhome Club says: “Towing a caravan or other trailer can be unfamiliar, but doesn’t need to be intimidating. By getting the basic set-up right, then following straightforward advice over issues such as speed and safety around other vehicles, towing can be relaxed, easy and comfortable. Above all, it will be safe.

In almost all cases, serious incidents only occur because inexperienced drivers have not taken the right advice, or experienced ones have become complacent. The Club has 15 training centres across the country* so anyone just starting out, or those needing some refresher training can receive the best possible guidance.”

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart says: “The advanced driving skills of observation, anticipation and planning are key to good towing. They will keep you a safe distance from the vehicle in front and help you predict problems ahead and around you. If you prepare yourself, your family and your vehicles for the road ahead your trip will be as relaxing as possible.”

* https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/advice-and-training/training-courses/

Of the fifteen training centres, the nearest to our area are:

Diamond Driver Training, Newark, Nottingham

Towing Solutions Macclesfield, Cheshire

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FAQs

I would like to improve my driving skills can Derby Advanced Motorists help me?

Yes, of course! Any qualified driver who wants to improve their driving skills is an ideal candidate for RoadSmart, our Advanced Driving Course.

I am a disabled driver. Can I become an advanced driver?

There is absolutely no reason why you should not achieve our highest driving test awards. We welcome qualified drivers with any disability who enjoy a challenge! If you drive an adapted car, that’s just fine.

I’ve just passed my driving test; can I join the Derby Group of Advanced Motorists?

Yes, you can, but the group would prefer you to have a few months experience of driving on your own and clocking up a reasonable number of road miles before joining. The RoadSmart course is a great way to develop your driving skills and gain confidence.

How much will the course cost?

At the moment the RoadSmart driving course costs £149 all in and it is very good value for money!

You will get the RoadSmart course manual, a current copy of the Highway Code, a copy of Know Your Traffic Signs, sessions with our advanced drivers who will give advice on how to improve your driving skills, the cost of the Advanced Driving Test itself and a year’s membership of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and Derby Advanced Motorists Group.

In addition, you will have access to competitive insurance from IAM Surety, a year’s subscription to the members’ magazine Advanced Driving, the Derby Group newsletter and any activities we may organise.

Will I drive a dual controlled car with an instructor?

No, you will drive your own car but it must be taxed, insured for you to drive and, if applicable, have a current MOT certificate. You must hold a full driving license for the class of vehicle. You will drive with a qualified advanced driver, who will observe the way you drive and offer suggestions and tips for improvement. The observer will not attempt to operate any controls or make any driving decisions for you.

How long will it take me to achieve the advanced driving test standard?

This much depends on you! If you are an experienced, confident driver with few bad driving habits, then you should be test ready fairly quickly. For some drivers it takes a little longer. Derby Advanced Motorists cannot guarantee everyone will reach the required standard but if you take on board the advice given and are able to put it into practice, then three to six months should see the job done! Be aware that there are no additional fees for the first year no matter how many sessions you want to take.

What does the Advanced Driving Test involve?

To become one of the most skilled drivers on the road is quite an achievement. The test takes around 60 to 90 minutes, covering a number of different routes and scenarios, including country roads and, if possible, motorway driving. To pass, you will demonstrate your awareness of other road users and how to adapt to different conditions and hazards showing such skills as optimum road positioning and an ability to deal with situations as they occur.

How do I join?

The national group of the Institute of Advanced Motorists:

Click: www.iamroadsmart.com

Call: 0300 303 1134

To find out more about the Derby Group of Advanced Motorists please contact:

The Group Secretary: John Butler (reltubj1b@gmail.com)

or phone 01773 824822

or you can drop by at our next Sunday run. We’d love to meet you!

Derby Advanced Motorists is a Registered Charity – Number 1057462

 

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Rainy Day Driving

Rainy Day Driving

The wettest parts of the UK are concentrated in mountainous regions with observation sites in Snowdonia, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands all receiving more than 4 metres of rainfall in a year.

Other rainy parts of the UK include:

  • North west England – especially the Lake District in Cumbria and western facing slopes of the Pennines.

  • Western and central Wales – particularly the mountainous Snowdonia region in the north.

  • South west England – mainly the higher elevation areas of Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor.

  • Parts of Northern Ireland.

For us in the Watnall weather station region, we are likely to get 20 to 25 days rain annually that is greater than 10mm, according to the weather records. There might be 130 to 140 days rain that is greater than 1mm. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/climate/gcrje93b8

So, in this country, it is going to be difficult to avoid those rainy days when driving.

Driving in heavy rain and flooding can be hazardous. Here are some useful hints and tips to help you prepare for a wet weather drive.

It is always advisable to consider before you set off whether your journey is essential. Of course, one has to get to work or drive the children to school and cannot really delay the time of travel.

First and foremost: Using the car lights correctly when the roads are wet will ensure you can see and be seen. When the rain does start to fall, you should turn the headlights on. Don’t just assume they already are – many cars’ instruments light up even when the headlights are turned off these days, which can be misleading. If your car has daytime running lights you still should switch the dipped headlights on, so vehicles behind you can see the red tail lights. Don’t use rear fog lights unless visibility is less than 100 yards and you cannot see any vehicles behind. Fog lights can mask the brake lights and dazzle drivers behind you

If your car has automatic headlamps, make sure these have activated – or override them manually by turning the headlamp switch to the dipped beam setting.

Slow down! It takes longer to stop or adjust in wet weather and it’s more difficult to see the road ahead/behind. The gap between vehicles should be at least doubled on wet roads, according to the Highway Code – Rule 126 – Stopping Distances. This is because tyres have less grip on the road. In wet weather the rain and spray from vehicles may make it difficult to see and be seen so the driver should keep well back from the vehicle in front. This will increase the ability to see and plan ahead.

Be aware of the dangers of spilt fuel that will make the surface very slippery. You should also try and avoid sudden moves that might unbalance the car, such as sharp steering or braking. Doing so increases the likelihood of your car skidding.

Driving too fast through standing water could lead to tyres losing contact with the road.  If your steering suddenly feels light you could be aquaplaning. To regain grip, ease off the accelerator, do not brake and allow your speed to reduce until you gain full control of the steering again, while keeping the steering pointing in the direction of travel. (The surface water builds up under the tyre, lifting it away from the road surface. Once it loses contact with the Tarmac, you’re effectively ‘surfing’ along on top of the water, with little or no grip.)

Driving through surface water and floods

Puddles may be a couple of centimetres deep, but some can develop into deep potholes of water. There is no way of knowing until it may be too late, so avoid them if possible. Driving through these potholes could cause serious damage to your car not to mention cost an extortionate amount to repair.

Should you come across a flooded road, first think about taking another route. If not, then you need to identify how deep the flood is. If the standing water is more than six inches deep, avoid driving through it. The water is often deeper than it looks and may be moving quite fast.  Your vehicle may be swept away or become stranded. Two feet of water will float your car. If you are familiar with the road, you may be able to judge the flood in relation to the kerb. Are there other vehicles similar to yours that are safely driving through? From this, make a judgement call as to whether it is safe to travel through or not.

If you are in the slightest doubt, then turn around and don’t go through the flood. Often modern saloon cars have the air intake in the wheel arch, which may be below the water level. If your engine should take in water, it will immediately hydro lock and the engine will stop. 

If you have taken everything into consideration and decide to drive through the flood, be sure to do so slowly. The best approach is to press lightly on your clutch and add gentle pressure on your accelerator to increase your engine revs. Do so without increasing your speed, in a similar way to how you would undertake a hill start. This will prevent water from entering your exhaust. If you are in an automatic car, accelerate slightly but control the speed with your brakes. When you have passed the flood, test your brakes to make sure they are dry and working properly.

Avoid splashing pedestrians. If this is done accidentally, you could receive a fixed penalty and three points on your license for driving without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other road users. If deliberately done, it could be a public order offence, a court appearance and a fine.

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Coping with Fog

All Fogged Up

The Met. Office gives out warnings of dense fog when visibility is expected to fall below 200 metres. Severe disruption to transport occurs when the visibility falls below 50 metres. Every driver knows or has known that travelling in fog can be extremely dangerous. Every driver knows or has known that fog can drift rapidly and is often patchy. Once through the DVSA practical driving test this knowledge can drift away from some drivers’ memories like the fog itself.

Here is a reminder from the Highway Code for all of us:

The Highway Code

Rule 226

You MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet). You may also use front or rear fog lights but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves.

Rule 234

Before entering fog check your mirrors then slow down. If the word ‘Fog’ is shown on a roadside signal but the road is clear, be prepared for a bank of fog or drifting patchy fog ahead. Even if it seems to be clearing, you can suddenly find yourself in thick fog.

Rule 235

When driving in fog you should

  • use your lights as required

  • keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front. Rear lights can give a false sense of security

  • be able to pull up well within the distance you can see clearly. This is particularly important on motorways and dual carriageways, as vehicles are travelling faster

  • use your windscreen wipers and demisters

  • beware of other drivers not using headlights

  • not accelerate to get away from a vehicle which is too close behind you

  • check your mirrors before you slow down. Then use your brakes so that your brake lights warn drivers behind you that you are slowing down

  • stop in the correct position at a junction with limited visibility and listen for traffic. When you are sure it is safe to emerge, do so positively and do not hesitate in a position that puts you directly in the path of approaching vehicles.

Rule 236

You MUST NOT use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced as they dazzle other road users and can obscure your brake lights. You MUST switch them off when visibility improves.

Ah yes, we remember it well!

Some more advice from the Met. Office for road users when travelling in fog:

  • Avoid travel if possible

  • Drive carefully with dipped headlights, full-beam lights reflect off the fog causing a ‘white wall’ effect

  • Keep an eye on your speed, fog can give the illusion of moving in slow motion

  • Watch out for freezing fog which is made of water droplets that freeze on contact with objects such as the pavement, road, car, etc. It can quickly form a layer of ice.

How do the Met. Office forecast fog?

It can be very tricky to forecast fog. Fog forms when moisture in the air is cooled to its ‘dew point’. This is the temperature at which air will condense from water vapour into water droplets. This is the same effect you get when warm moist air comes into contact with a cold bathroom mirror. While vapour is relatively transparent, water droplets reflect light and therefore reduce visibility. When driving in fog one is actually driving in a cloud at ground level.

Fog usually occurs in the late autumn and winter months, when conditions tend to be colder, and nights are longer. This type of fog forms as a result of clear skies and light winds. The land cools overnight and this reduces the ability of the air to hold moisture, allowing condensation and fog to occur. The fog will often disperse after sunrise, but in some circumstances can last well into the afternoon, and even persist for days on end. This is most likely during January and February, and can cause severe disruption at airports, as well as on roads and for other types of transport.

Coastal fog is a regular occurrence along the eastern coast of the UK and is most common during Spring and Summer when warm air moves over the cool surface of the North Sea towards the coast. Many a day trip to Skegness has been ruined . . . “The weather was great when we set out from Derby this morning!”

 Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

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