Storm Francis warnings – AA driving advice
With Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of England and Wales expecting heavy rain and strong winds this week, the AA is advising drivers to take extra care on the roads.
Wet and windy weather caused by Storm Francis will disrupt travel throughout the UK, with hazardous conditions expected to last until Wednesday (26 Aug).
Yellow Met Office weather warnings of rain and winds are currently in place for parts of the UK this week1.
Ben Sheridan, AA Patrol of the Year, says: “Unsettled weather in northern parts of the UK combined with flooding and fallen trees on the roads will make journeys even more hazardous.
“Visibility is going to be really poor in areas taking the brunt of Storm Francis so drivers need to stay alert. Take extra care and plan for delays, even on main roads and motorways, and make sure that you listen to live traffic updates so you aren’t caught out.
“Where the weather is bad, slow down and drive to the conditions. Before you set off, ensure your lights and wipers work and all windows are clear of debris so that you can see and be seen.
“When driving in strong winds or rainy conditions, leave plenty space between you and the car in front to account for greater stopping distances. Take care when passing high-sided vehicles and make sure you prepare to navigate debris, fallen trees, or even damaged vehicles on the road ahead.
“Drains can quickly become swamped and standing water can cause problems such as surface spray, reduced visibility and potentially leading to flooding, so drivers will need to take extra care and expect delays, even on motorways.”
Drivers can check conditions for their route using AA Roadwatch or the free AA app, which can also be used to report a breakdown and track the attending patrol.
More advice on driving in storms is available on the AA website.
AA tips for driving in strong wind:
· Keep both hands on the wheel.
· Be ready for stronger winds and gusts on exposed stretches of road, or when passing high-sided vehicles.
· Keep your speed down – strong gusts won’t blow you as far off course.
· Take care around cyclists, motorcyclists and horse-riders.
· Keep your distance from other vehicles, especially high-sided vehicles and caravans.
· Twigs or small branches in the road could mean there’s a tree or large branch in the way around the next bend.
· Partially fallen trees can hang above the sweep of your headlights, making them hard to spot.
· Plan your journey carefully, checking weather and traffic bulletins regularly. Expect lower speed limits or temporary closures on exposed bridges, and road closures due to fallen debris or accidents.
Safe driving in storms
Driving in heavy rain and thunderstorms is very different to driving in any other conditions. Flooding can appear in a matter of hours with heavy rain and the conditions out on the road can change drastically in no time. In very bad conditions you should avoid driving completely, unless you absolutely have to make a journey and driving is the only option. If you are already out on the road when the weather turns, take extra precaution and make sure you pull over into a safe place if you are looking to stop.
Dangers caused by heavy rain whilst driving:
· Surface water can cause aquaplaning, this is where there is a build-up of water between the road surface and your tyres, causing them to lose contact with the road surface completely. If this happens, you may lose control of your vehicle. To reduce your chances of aquaplaning in wet weather, reduce your speed and do not use cruise control
· Reduced visibility, with surface water being sprayed up from the surface by other vehicles this creates a mist and reduces visibility. Reduce your speed safely and increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front
· Stopping distances in the rain will be at least double (Highway Code states) as your tyres have much less grip on the road. Reduce your speed and increase the distance between you and the car in front to allow for this greater stopping distance. Remember the two second rule? Well increase it to four if it begins to pour.
· ‘Puddles’ can range from a small drop of water on the road to a sizeable body of water and driving through them incorrectly could cause serious damage to your car, with an extortionate repair cost. If you are unsure on how deep the puddle is, find another route to your destination.