Weather conditions are generally ideal for driving here on the Costa Blanca in Spain. Tourism is restricted to the hot summer months, so most of the year there is very little traffic, and hold-ups are rare. What’s more, it hardly ever rains, so when the skies do open, all hell lets loose.
Unaccustomed to driving in rainy conditions, I was terrified to find myself speeding down the AP7 in Valencia, surrounded by lorries with the windscreen wipers going to nineteen to the dozen and heavy rain making it impossible to see what was going on around me. And yes, I hydroplaned for a few instants, which was terrifying. Luckily, I was not going too fast, and neither were the vehicles around me, and although I had to stop off at a service station on my way home from the airport until the downpour weakened, I got home safe and sound.
So, what should you do if you find yourself driving in a thunderstorm or heavy shower, particularly on oily roads like the ones around here?
The first thing you should do is to turn your headlights on, whatever time of day it happens to be. This is a legal requirement in some places. Even if it doesn’t help you to see any better, at least other vehicles will be able to see you.
What should you do if you hydroplane? Do as I did instinctively, ease off the gas and keep driving steadily in the same direction. The worst thing you can do is to slam on the brakes.
Prevention is essential. Luckily, the tyres on my car are in excellent condition, but of course worn tyres are dangerous, so it could have been a lot worse. Keep your car in a good state of repair and get regular brake checks. You should also check that your windscreen wiper blades are in good condition before you need them.
Lastly, even if you are on the motorway, you shouldn’t use cruise control in wet conditions because lack of traction may cause the system to accelerate.
Of course, if you are a good driver, you will always adapt your driving style to what is going around you, keeping your distance from the vehicle ahead of you, slowing down in unsafe conditions and being patient when there is a lot of traffic.
If you haven’t checked your tyres and wiper blades recently, now might be a good time to do so, you never know when you’re going to get caught in a downpour.