According to National Road Safety Partnership Program, one in three Australian’s are uncomfortable with driving in wet weather.
Rightfully so as with less visibility and surface friction, crashes expectedly increase. Reducing the risk of a crash can be as simple as reducing speed, increasing a safe following distance and caution. However, when it comes to towing a caravan in wet weather, then that is a whole different story.
This is a simple and easy to follow guide for every caravan owner. At the end of the day, these tips just come down to good practice.
- Vehicle checks
- Travel time adjustments
- Adjust your beams
- Driving technique
- Add-on’s for a smoother trip
1. Vehicle checks
When it comes to towing a caravan, the number one priority is to always do safely. If driving in the rain can be avoided, then it should be. Driving in the rain is not recommended, however in some cases when already on the road and travelling it’s not possible. This is when vehicle checks can pay-off for the caravan owner that follows them.
The first check is to pre-check the route and weather conditions for the time of your travel to gain insight of the conditions you as the driver and your vehicle will experience. Then make a judgement call on whether or not it is safe to continue with the trip.
If you able to before leaving, check your tire pressure and tread. The purpose of your tires is to remove water from the road so your tire itself has contact with the road’s surface. Deeper treads remove more water. You’ll get the maximum amount of grip with the correct tire inflation.
Most tires have a depth indicator bar which appears when the minimum depth has been reached. Keep an eye out for that. Then before you head out check that your brakes, taillight and wipers are working. A helpful check to do on your caravan is your sealants and make sure there are no leaks, damage or bubbles forming. When you get your vehicle serviced it is also worthwhile to ask the technicians to take a look. Peace of mind is worthwhile when it comes to travelling.
2. Travel time adjustments
When driving a caravan the typical owner just wants to get from A to B to start their holiday or trip as quickly as possible, or are in a rush to get home after a long trip. Either way, it’s worth it so put the brakes on that thought till the weather clears (pun intended).
It’s better to slow down and adjust your speed accordingly to reduce the risk of the wet weather conditions, allow for this during your travelling time. Rushing to get to your destination can significantly increase the risk in losing control of the vehicle.
With extra added weight, it takes longer to brake during perfect weather conditions let alone wet weather. In this instance, giving yourself some more time while reducing your speed and easing on to the brakes can make stopping a much smoother operation.
Be mindful of other driver’s, by reducing speed it can be expected that there may be other impatient road users. Best practice in this case is when and where it is safe to do so, pull over or make space for the other vehicle to pass you, but not at the detriment of your or your vehicle’s safety. Finally, if weather conditions worsen and visibility is reduced, it is safer to pull over safely and wait till the conditions improve before continuing.
3. Adjust your beams
As to be expected, rain and harsh weather conditions can reduce your visibility while driving. In cases of harsh weather, it can be difficult to see other vehicles on the road. In such instances, that may mean that other drivers can’t see you either. By putting your headlights on low beam in the wet weather you can increase your chances and being seen, if another vehicle is tailgating you or you suspect you have not been seen then you can give them gentle nudge or warning by putting on your hazard lights momentarily for them to notice you.
4. Driving techniques
One of the most important aspects and factors which most significantly reduce the risks you face when driving in the rain, is the way you drive.
Reduce your speed till you are comfortable with your control of the vehicle during the conditions being faced. This will reduce your chances of aquaplaning. Do not brake or change direction suddenly unless you have to do so for your safety.
Remember that slow and steady wins the race in this case, stick to gradual transitions. If possible, avoid excessive braking when taking corners when on a slippery surface. Treat every puddle as a threat, and avoid them. Avoid crossings and rivers where the depth is not certain. If you come across muddy surfaces and find yourself getting blogged, you can reduce your tire pressure to 20psi to try get through.
5. Add-on’s for a smoother trip
Having a few extra gadgets never hurts when it comes to travelling. Although it is not necessary, it does come in handy depending on what type of caravanner you are.
A UHF radio is recommended. You can request for help if needed, ask other road user’s about the depth of a crossing or puddle, even ask other’s how a storm is behaving ahead and then make a detour if necessary.
Using new windscreen wiper blades can help increase the visibility. If the windows begin to fog, just use the air conditioner and heater to clear it up.
If you are stopping due to the storm or have arrived at your destination, try stop on a concrete slab to prevent getting bogged when you do move on again. It’ll also help prevent tracking dirt and mud into your caravan.
Should you put your awning up in the rain, then place one end lower than the other to force water to run off instead of building up and tearing through? If the stabilizing legs are used, insert a plank or solid object underneath the legs to stop them from sinking.
That’s it when it comes to safely travelling in the rain. If you can avoid it, do so. But ultimately not every aspect of a trip can be controlled and this applies to the weather too. Be alert, cautious and patient when facing unfavourable conditions.
Have any other tips for driving in the rain? Help other caravanner’s by sharing your life hacks in the comments