Storm at the wheel
Hot summer days often end in a violent storm. The interior of the car is then rather a safe place, but driving in such weather conditions can be very dangerous. Not only strong electrical discharges are a danger. Heavy rain and strong wind are equally dangerous. The Renault Driving Safety School trainers advise on how a driver should behave during a storm.
Lightning strikes are best to wait
A car made entirely of metal is quite a safe place to wait for a storm, although it happens that a vehicle can be damaged after a lightning strike. The electrical and electronic systems of the car are exposed to failure, among others.
If possible, the driver should drive off to a safe place during the storm, stop the car, turn on the hazard lights and wait for the storm to pass. Do not touch any metal devices during this time. The safest way to do this is to put your hands on your knees and take your legs off the pedals," advises Zbigniew Weseli, director of the Renault Safe Driving School.
However, it is worth knowing that using a mobile phone during a storm is not risky. The device may be required to call for help*.
Dangerous rain and puddles
Another storm hazard is heavy rain. It drastically reduces the driver's visibility and increases the braking distance significantly. Therefore, if it is not possible to stop and wait for a downpour, reduce speed and increase the distance from the vehicle ahead. You have to watch out for deep puddles too. When driving into standing water at too high a speed, the driver may experience aquaplaning - water slippage and lose control of the vehicle. In some cases it is also possible to flood the ignition system or other electrical components in the car. Besides, it is easy to damage the car in this way, because puddles often hide deep holes.
When driving into a puddle, you should slow down as much as possible and take your foot off the brake, because during braking the front shock absorbers are bent and do not perform their function. When a part of the roadway covered with water is damaged, the impact energy is transferred to the suspension and wheels of the car. It's also worthwhile to push in the clutch to protect the gearbox and engine from the energy of impact," recommends Renault's Safe Driving School trainers.
If the road has been flooded with water from a nearby river or reservoir, it is definitely best to turn back and look for another way to get there, as the water may be raging.
Watch out for the strong wind!
Due to the strong wind it is better to avoid stopping and driving near the trees. Falling boughs can damage the car or obstruct the road. For this reason, during a storm it is safer to travel on the highway or expressway than the local one, where there may be trees.
Gusts of wind can also push the car off the track. This danger exists especially on bridges and unprotected sections of the road. During strong gusts, the driver should immediately gently adjust the wheel alignment to the wind direction to balance his strength. It is necessary to adjust the speed to the weather conditions and to increase the distance from the preceding vehicle to a minimum of 3 seconds.