How Wet Roads Affect Stopping Distances

Although there have been calls for elderly drivers to retake their tests in the past, including one from former Formula One driver, Sir Stirling Moss, very little attention has been paid to bad drivers in general.

Despite the fact that many people are calling for the elderly to retake their tests, in 2011 the AA asked 17,000 drivers whether they thought that would pass a test if they were to retake it.

Perhaps surprisingly, only 11% thought that they would fail.

Almost in complete disagreement to AA drivers, Monkey, a car insurance company suggests that thanks to bad habits, 1 in 5 people would fail their driving test if they were to retake it.

In 2011 there were 203,950 injuries on British roads thanks to car accidents; many of these took place in slippery conditions.

So, how do wet surfaces affect your driving ability?

Due to the fact that water is sometimes retained upon the surface of a road, a car’s tyres will have less grip, which in turn causes skidding and increased braking distances.

Unfortunately, during wet conditions, the danger of a road is further amplified by the fact that visibility is greatly reduced, adding to reaction times.

Of course, many have heard of the two second rule, often condensed to the saying ‘only a fool breaks the two second rule.’

Despite this, the rule is not fixed, meaning that during hostile weather conditions, it is important for drivers to increase spaces between vehicles.

In fact, the perception time in between seeing a hazard and the brain actually identifying it can be as much as half a second. To further this, the amount of time it takes to switch foots from one pedal to another can vary from anything up to nearly a third of a second.

Both these factors are highly important when it comes down to the prospective braking distance of a car.

For example, if a car was travelling at just 18 mph, it would take the vehicle roughly 10.8 metres before it could stop. This is taking into account both reaction and braking distance.

If however, the car was travelling under wet conditions it would take the vehicle a total of 14.9 seconds to grind to a halt.

Aside from thinking and braking distance, none of these factors take into account tyre pressure, tread and grip, weight of the vehicle and quality of its suspension.

What precautions can you take if travelling in wet conditions?

Besides the aforementioned tips, such as leaving a greater space in between cars, there are a number of things that a driver can do to keep safe during wet conditions:

  • Regularly check the depth of a tyre.

This is important, especially in winter where conditions can be often poor. The legal bare minimum for tyre tread depth is 1.66 around the circumference of the tyre.

You can of course purchase safety tyres online from quality suppliers, such as Click on Tyres, suppliers of Nankang Tyres.

  • Bear in mind that if visibility is low, other road users may have difficulty seeing your vehicle and you should always assume that they have not seen you.
  • Give cyclists and motorcyclists plenty of room and at the same time, remember to avoid large puddles and drain covers.

Not only can you cause them to get slightly more wet than they probably already are, but the sudden shock could cause a serious accident.

Author: Chris Taylor

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