There are several situations where weather will make it difficult for you to drive.
High winds pose the biggest danger to motorcyclists, cyclists, drivers of high-sided empty heavy vehicles and drivers of vehicles towing caravans or high-sided trailers. It’s possible for strong cross winds or side winds to blow trailers over. You can see in this video below (warning: NSFW) that the driver of the truck had to run off the road to avoid his trailer being blown over.
The dangers are similar for cars towing trailers, and rigid heavy vehicles such as box vans and smaller lorries.
For motorbikes and cycles, gusty winds can push them into traffic or, in bad cases, cause them to fall off. This video shows that even the minimal cross-section of a bike can offer uncontrollable wind resistance. Drivers of vehicles need to be aware that in strong winds motorcyclists and cyclists can veer across the road unexpectedly. Riders are more vulnerable to objects being blown by the wind which can knock them off.
The winds are also dangerous when they arrive unexpectedly. This can happen when you are driving or riding along in the lea (wind shadow) of a building or in a tunnel and when you come out of the lea a strong gust hits you. Stronger winds can also be expected in areas where there are minimal features to break up the wind such as flat country with minimal hedges or trees (for example areas of farming in flat Lincolnshire or various moors around the country) and motorway overpasses.
The way to combat strong side winds is to slow down. If you are on a two-wheeled vehicle you might have to walk with it or wait until the winds die down. If you have a high-sided vehicle, keep any loads low and central. Plan a route that doesn’t include exposed areas.
When the roads are wet it takes you longer to stop – braking distances will be increased – so increase your following distance to four seconds. If it has been sunny for a while beforehand then the roads will be especially slippery due to the build up of a layer of oil and grime on the road surface mixing with the water. Spilled diesel will be extremely slippery and is a major hazard for motorcyclists and cyclists. Two-wheeled riders should avoid riding on painted lines and metal manhole covers.
It will be overcast, therefore there will be less visibility and you should turn your lights on low beam.
Sometimes your windscreen wipers will not be able to keep up with the amount of rain falling. In these cases, slow down until they can, or stop on the side of the road and wait for the shower to pass.
Standing water can cause blinding spray from vehicles coming in the other direction.
If you travel too fast your tyres’ tread might not be able to disperse water fast enough and the tyre will ride up on top of the water. This is called hydroplaning or aquaplaning and you will lose control of your vehicle.
Don’t use cruise control when it’s wet.
Heavy rain can cause flash floods. It’s safest to not drive through a flooded area unless you know for sure how deep the water is, especially if the water is moving quickly. Fast-moving water can take your vehicle away, trapping you inside and putting your life in danger.
Heavy rain increases the likelihood of landslides. If you are on a narrow road with a drop-off on one side and a steep slope on the other, take care when driving around blind corners as you may come across a slip across the road.
Hot weather isn’t something we Brits are used to experiencing, but occasionally the tarmac will melt. This can create patches of the road that are extremely slippery and a danger especially for motorcyclists.
Motorcyclists wearing full protective clothing should be aware of overheating and dehydration. Read our guide to driving in hot weather here.
Snow can easily block roads making them impassable. Check out our guide to driving in snowy weather here.
Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.